Going behind batch government activities

Last month, the hoarding of rooms for scheduled activities nearly had the USG penalized. USG Vice President for Internal Affairs Robert Hechanova, however, clarified that the USG was, in a way, penalized as some USG activities had to go through a more stringent manual approval process.

The penalty was a result of three venue reservation violations. While an account may reserve ten venues at a time, the policy stipulates that if an organization or an office has accumulated a maximum of three venues that were unused on the date they were reserved, the organization would be sanctioned. Example of sanctions include the cancellation of all other venue reservations, more examples.

Because three different activities from different offices failed to push through, the USG’s venue reservation account was suspended. Fortunately, the sanction was lifted and the USG’s planned activities pushed through.

The case reflected the issue of the possibility that student organizations would hoard rooms in the process of achieving their Goals, Objectives, Strategies and Measures (GOSM).

Moreover, the increase incidence of postponed activities also poses the issue of efficiency in communication and project management, as well as the relevance of some activities.

Not only for the batch

When elected, one of the responsibilities of batch presidents is to spearhead activities and projects that could address the academic and non-academic needs of the batch. Incumbent FAST2011 Batch President Angelo Tiglao explains, “However, we’re [also] expected to create relevant projects for students outside our jurisdiction.”

All activities included in the batch’s GOSM are pre-planned by the batch president, vice president, and legislative assembly representative. The batch activities are endorsed to the USG’s Executive Board to prevent any overlaps and redundancies with University-wide activities and projects. The number of activities could vary from one batch government to another, but ideally, each batch should produce at least fifteen activities per term to ensure that one project would be implemented per week.

Other than the frequency and number of activities that should be executed each term, officers need to ensure that activities are relevant.

EXCEL2012 appointed officer Jerick Maala explains the activity planning process, “First, [the officers] diagnose the batch’s problems and needs, then they think of solutions, in the form of projects or activities, to address this need. As a follow-up, the batch officers evaluate the project’s effectiveness in addressing the identified need or problem.”

These needs could range from basic questions on applications to majors, thesis and OJT guides, to increasing the batch’s awareness on national issues and concerns.

When the activities and projects are finalized, the plans are translated into paperwork, which is composed of a laundry list of pre-activity and post-activity documents. Pre-activity requirements include project proposals, forms and permits, while activity reports such as attendance sheets and activity photos comprise the post-activity documents.

Depending on the nature of the planned activities and projects, the Department of Activity Approval and Monitoring (DAAM) under the Office of the Vice President for Internals or the SLIFE would then have to approve the event.

The SLIFE is in charge of the approving external activities and projects such as off-campus events, and seminars and forums with outsiders contracted as speakers.

Moreover, SLIFE assumes that any activity forwarded for approval has already been thoroughly screened and reviewed by the batch officers and the other USG offices involved. “The goals of the activities need to be aligned with the goals of the USG and batch government as stated in their GOSM,” SLIFE Coordinator Jessica Ginete-Morales shares. She adds that inasmuch as the office does not want to reject activity proposals, they have to ensure that the activities and projects are relevant and aligned with the batch’s objectives.

The most common causes of rejected proposals are deficiencies in paperwork and tardiness of the documents completion and submission. The aforementioned office requires all documents to be compiled and submitted to the office at least two weeks before the event takes place. In cases when the office finds the activities and projects irrelevant, SLIFE gives recommendations to improve the proposals. The office also rejects activity proposals that violate student handbook provisions.


Challenges in execution

Challenges mainly revolve around manpower from the batch government during said activities. Parco furthers that problems on paperwork as well as communication usually arise while Tiglao laments. “It’s important to keep everyone well-informed, yet we sometimes forget to inform some officers about what’s happening.”

The primary target audience normally attends activities, says Tabbi Tomas of FAST2010, and that is enough to meet their expectation. Despite the invariable focus on academics for every batch, the number of participants for an activity is usually met. Hanna Garcia of EdGE10 believes, though that there may still be more to do to convince batch mates to get more involved and less apathetic. “I believe there are still avenues that have not been discovered,” adds Litonjua.


Room for improvement

Batch government activities have garnerned mixed reviews from students. Many describe them as interesting and relevant while some pass them as unnecessary. Some students recommend the frequency of team-ups between BGs. College of Computer Studies (CCS) student Jan* (BSINSYS) laments, “Our degree program incorporates business and management concepts with information technology. However, no business activities are seen.”

Other comments and suggestions of students not involved with the BG revolve around the scheduling of activities and the publicity, as not everyone is informed and activities are not equally promoted. “Nowadays, the BG tends to have the reputation of organizing only parties and other such activities, but they actually have a lot of other projects that are potentially very good,” Ally* (BS-MGT, II) says, “I think it’s these that need to be marketed more.”

Some, however, tell a different story. They lament that in many cases, the USG officers count themselves as part of the audience to meet the documentation requirements. Moreover, several members of the USG have expressed that quantity and documentation go first in the approval of an activity by the DAAM or by SLIFE.

Two months ago, a former USG appointed officer complained about the declining quality of some USG activities. In a comment on Facebook, he aired his concern over a USG activity entitled NBA 2k13.

By Martha Elisse Teves

By Dana Uson

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