Tapat, other student-leaders to create reforms in CSO, SLIFE

Jan Lim

The Alyansang Tapat sa Lasallista (TAPAT), together with other heads of organizations revealed their plans of creating reforms in the Council of Student Organization (CSO) and the Office of Student Leadership Involvement, Formation and Empowerment (SLIFE), especially on the slow approval process of org-related projects under the mentioned offices.

“There are other heads of organizations under CSO that approached me and I believe that this University needs a lot of reforms, which includes lessening the bureaucratic processes we have,” says Jerick Maala, the current president of Tapat and an initiator of the on-going plan of a reform movement. “It hinders the students’ intellectual and creative growth,” he adds.

Furthermore, aside from establishing major and minor reforms, their reform movement, which they call The Progressivists, is also after the clarification of the supposed roles of CSO and SLIFE.


Approval process

For an organization’s activity or project to push through, it must first undergo a screening and approval process by the joint efforts of the either CSO or USG, and SLIFE. This is as stipulated in the Activities Manual ideally targeted for release by the end of the second term.

For instance, officers from batch and college government units are first required to consult with the USG’s Department of Activity Approval and Monitoring (DAAM). On the other hand, at the beginning of the term, officers of each organization under the CSO are mandated to submit a lineup of proposed activities or projects for that academic year known as the Goals, Objectives, Strategies and Measures (GOSM).

Activities with distinguished guests, external participants or those involving selling or solicitation or are held off-campus are to be processed through SLIFE. However, this is not to say that the SLIFE has no influence over processing of internal activities. Maala reiterates that the whole approval process concludes with a go signal from SLIFE, but Coordinator for Operation of Student Organizations Jessica Morales also acknowledges the combined assistance of the three bodies in the process, clarifying that SLIFE is not the only office to decide whether an activity gets approved or not.

In terms of having a specific activity approved, officers are to hand in a project proposal together with an Activity Approval Form. In these forms, pertinent information regarding the activity is mentioned, including its objectives, program design, breakdown of expenses and organizational funds. Officers are also required to reserve via My.LaSalle (MLS) their target venue for the activity. If the prospected venue is not available for reservation through MLS, officers may then coordinate with the Physical Facilities Office (PFO).


Revealing the reforms

The group highlights that the SLIFE should only be a monitoring and consultation body, pursuant to the Student Handbook. The group reasons that, since activities have already undergone screening by USG and CSO, there should be no need for SLIFE to meddle with the process.

However, CSO believes that it is only right and proper to ask the approval of the administration especially in the case of big activities or projects sponsored by CSO organizations that might involve fundraising and sponsors.

The group also points out CSO’s tendency to be punishment-oriented, wherein small mistakes such as typographical errors or the misprinting of logos can lead to several inconveniences for an organization. But if organizations find it a nuisance to suffer from their small mistakes, CSO finds it also problematic on their side to check errors which organizations repeatedly commit. For this reason, CSO has set remedies such as process workshops so that organizations including their officers may avoid committing the same mistakes. Meanwhile, for graver errors, accounts of organizations that are subject to punishment are frozen, disabling them from functioning for a certain period of time.

Meanwhile, when some organizations seek the approval of projects that are not included in their respective GOSMs (such as those related to current events), they find the additional processes they have to undergo too slow and difficult. Maala suggests that an activity, regardless if it is stipulated in an organization’s GOSM or not, should be approved given that it is properly justified. Furthermore, according to Maala, the GOSM actually limits an organization in terms of planning activities for this reason.

The group has also mentioned that they plan to remove CSO’s imposition of ratios in the implementation of projects. While existing rules on ratios are implemented for organizations to allocate their funds proportionally while carrying out their projects, the movement insists that these hinder the organization from attaining their visions.

Another reform they are pushing for is the increase of organizations’ petty cash fund. As of press time, P3,500 is the initial cash-on-hand allowable to each organization. According to the movement, stretching that amount of money to accommodate big events like congresses proves to be very difficult. Based on their observations, the small amount of petty cash drives the students to cheat in terms of receipts and financial statements.

As of now, the movement is still in the process of concretizing and finalizing the major and minor reforms that they want to establish. However, Maala emphasizes that their reforms will focus mainly on the CSO and SLIFE.


Fighting till the end

When asked whether the group is going for total abolishment of SLIFE, member and President of the Physics Society Juan Carlo Zamora says that the abolishment is just a “fail-safe plan.” He says they are considering it as a last step, if ever the aforementioned reforms will not be approved.

Yet Zamora does not deny the possibility of only eliminating SLIFE from the approval process of org-related projects. Maala agrees with Zamora and even adds that SLIFE should give students the freedom to do what they want as long as students are held responsible for the consequences of their actions.

The group expresses their preference for privacy, opting not to disclose names of other organizations that are supporting the movement.

However, Maala remains firm in his pursuit of reforms. “As long as there would be students who [clamor] for reforms, as long as students [want progress], we would fight till the end,” he says.

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