Last November 11, students received an email sent by Student Services, which highlighted that uncollected fees from Term 2 and 3 of Academic Year (AY) 2017-2018 allocated to the De La Salle University-Parents of University Student Organizations (DLSU-PUSO) are to be collected in the upcoming term. As the attached letter signed by the heads of the parent organization clarified, the fee, amounting to P200 for each of the terms, was not charged to the students during the said two-term period in the previous academic year.
Several inquiries were raised by students through social media platforms following the email. With this, DLSU-PUSO held a press conference last November 28 at Br. John Hall to officially straighten out any confusion on the matter.
Purpose of collection
The tuition and fees paid by students every term normally includes the DLSU-PUSO fee of P200. Annually, the parent organization collects over P6-million to P7-million from these fees, which is then used to fund their planned projects and pay off their administrative expenses.
However, these payments were briefly halted last December 2017 after DLSU-PUSO had disagreements with then University Chancellor Dr. Robert Roleda on certain administrative decisions. This escalated between the two parties, with DLSU officially severing ties with the organization and calling for them to vacate their office. But after some discussions between administrators and DLSU-PUSO, an agreement was later reached, culminating in the reestablishment of their partnership last July.
The following term, Term 1 of AY 2018-2019, collections resumed, but payments for the two previous terms were not yet charged to the students. An email regarding the matter was then distributed to students in November courtesy of the administration through Student Services.
When inquired about delivery of the email, DLSU-PUSO President Atty. Dindo Garciano clarified that it is not their office’s concern to answer questions about it as this was not handled by them. However, he instead focused on providing the rationale of the collection of fees. “Ang PUSO ay kumokolekta lamang ng pera sa mga parents, pero ibinabalik din sa mga pangangailangan ng mga mag-aaral na estudyante,” Garciano highlighted.
(PUSO collects fees from the parents, but it is eventually returned to students through services provided to address their needs.)
He reemphasized his main leadership goal as president, which he called Bakas ng Kolehiyo. From a centralized organization, Garciano transformed DLSU-PUSO’s single decision-making process exercised by the executives to an organization managed through decentralized bodies, with all colleges represented by respective trustees. Through this, all colleges in DLSU will benefit from their projects equitably as proper representation is made available through the trustees, he said.
Garciano illustrated the three main projects that utilize the budget: support to the projects of the Office of the Dean; support to college student organizations; and the College Intervention Fund (CIF), previously known as the La Salle Scholarship Program (LSP), an initiative formulated by previous DLSU-PUSO executives. Garciano, however, pointed out that the LSP previously does not equally distribute the scholarship to all colleges. Incorporating his vision of Bakas ng Kolehiyo, CIF now mandates all colleges to be beneficiaries of the scholarship program.
CIF can either be given to a student individually or the college in its entirety. He explained that the process of providing for these beneficiaries is based on the needs of the student or the college, not quantitative factors such the student’s economic status. In the years before, LSP takes into account the number of students per college and equates this measurement with the fund to be given, specifically P25 is allocated for each student.
Garciano changed this method and considers the need of a certain college as the primary element that will determine the allocation of funds. “Kung maliit ang college mo, maliit ang makukuhang pondo; kung malaki ang college, malaki ang pondo,” he pointed out.
(If your college is small, your budget allocation will be small; if your college is big, your budget will be big.)
In the same manner, selecting individual beneficiaries is weighed on the needs of each student rather than their declared financial standing, justifying that families who seem to be financially capable may be experiencing conflicts that can eventually develop to a financial problem.
The remainder of the budget collected by DLSU-PUSO is utilized for administrative expenses such as costs incurred when they hold meetings.
Effect of inactive partnership with admin
DLSU-PUSO was denied of a partnership with DLSU for a duration of over seven months from December 2017 to July 2018. Garciano revealed that one of the reasons for the enduring conflict was their strong objection toward U-break in support of the students.
Even if the partnership of DLSU-PUSO was terminated with the previous administration, they continued their operations and stayed in their office despite an ejectment order. “That’s why the new board now, we call it ‘resurgents’, because we just came from a big battle that we won,” Garciano reiterated.
However, despite their determination, the fees they normally collect was abolished for two terms. Garciano then argued, “We refused to die because we have the will to live. We want to continue the tradition of a 35-year organization started by Br. Andrew Gonzalez with very noble objectives.” They maintained a status quo with the administration and continued with their respective plans and projects.
After their ties were renewed with the administration and with the current appointment of University Chancellor Br. Bernard Oca FSC, funds were recuperated as it was collected during Term 1 of this academic year. Garciano said that the re-established relationship with the administration is “cordial and friendly.”
As of press time, the administration is yet to issue a statement regarding the matter.
with reports from Ramon Castañeda