Whose job is it anyway? Understanding the role of institutionalization

The Legislative Assembly (LA) saw the approval of the Institutionalization Process (IP) Manual in the last academic year. The manual, a practical guide to the successive implementation of institutionalized projects, has been amended in the past month. The LA has since laid the resolution on the table, discussing its endorsement.

The manual defines institutionalizing a project as a process of establishing a practice or activity as a convention in a culture. Thus, once a project is deemed institutionalized, future officers and units must carry it out subsequently.


Amending guidelines

A project or activity, however, must follow a criterion before it can qualify for institutionalization says Chief Legislator Wendy Peñafiel.

Prior the institutionalization of a project, it must have been successfully implemented for at least three consecutive terms. Annual projects must be carried out for at least two consecutive years.

Aaron King, 66th ENG Legislative Assembly Representative and co-author of the resolution says that these projects must also have documents to attest to their efficiency and success for when the LA deliberates on its qualification.

King, together with EDGE2012 Legislative Assembly Representative Jilliane Gomez, added missing provisions as well as the deinstitutionalization process to the current manual.


Passing it on

King shares, “Institutionalizing a project is mandating whoever is the next officer of that unit to also continue that project.”  Questions are raised, however, when the matters of who will continue it and how it will be continued are brought up.

Jerick Maala, Alyansang Tapat sa Lasallista president, voices out, “Though what we’re aiming for here is continuity, that still really depends on the next set of leaders—if their beliefs are the same, if this still is the effective way of providing for your constituents or empowering them.” He also laments that the general problem with creating policies and regulations is the resulting restrictive grasp these have over an individual.

Robert Hechanova, former Vice President of Internal Affairs and current president of Iisang Tugon Sa Tawag ng Panahon (Santugon), believes that institutionalized projects “should be done every year or every term regardless of the platform or thrust of the officers because it is deemed necessary by the University for the student body.” He argues that what merits a project’s institutionalization is its ability to impact the University and to easily be carried out consistently.

“I think institutionalization is a good guide for succeeding officers to really execute programs flawlessly,” says Hechanova who admits to having to adapt to continuing institutionalized projects during his time in office. “But I want to stress though that it is important for the elected officer to have leeway also on how to improve the program. It’s very crucial to have that balance of keeping the program as it is and looking for other areas to improve on and make things better.”

An institutionalized project is subject to change. Before any changes are to be made by the unit in charge, a superseding resolution with revisions must be passed, else the guidelines to the institutionalized project stays as is. This way, the LA can properly monitor implementation and the judiciary may sanction corresponding consequences for the violation of guidelines.


The call of the time

Gomez asserts that a project must be continuous, effective and relevant to the state of the University in order for it to qualify for institutionalization. King adds that it must be a self-sustaining project—“meaning it can progress on its own.”

Maala argues that if a project is long term and sustainable, then it should be something that could be carried out easily and in itself. He believes that there is a palpable disagreement on what is long-term and sustainable, furthering that projects that are structural in nature, which may need ample time to carry out, are the kinds of projects that ought to be institutionalized. “But in my opinion, there are some things that aren’t rational enough to be applied in the next years because we also need to contextualize what is happening or needed during a given time,” he says.

USG President Migi Moreno believes it to be a misnomer to think that projects must be institutionalized, as these initiatives must already be part of the roles and responsibilities of student leaders. “So it’s default and automatic,” he says. “But perhaps to say to have structure on how to deliver it more efficiently and effectively, then you can come up with a program that is in line with what you are doing and more or less institutionalize it.”


Whose job is it anyway?

Moreno fears that current institutionalized projects are confounding the services already provided by the administration. He suggests that more than having programs institutionalized at the USG level, they should be institutionalized at the administrative level. “It’s a futile project to institutionalize it at the USG level if the admin doesn’t recognize it,” he says.

While the intentions of institutionalized projects are good in nature, the repercussions of such are most often overlooked. Certain projects have their respective budgets, and officers are expected to raise enough funds in order to implement the project. Maala says, “It’s not a bad thing to want to help the admin, but we have to do what we should be doing in the first place—and that is to represent the students.”

“Services that are provided by the USG do not always have to be based on the resources that the USG has to come with because the services that they provide can simply be spotlighting others and bridging all,” says Moreno, adding that this should be the culture the USG must start embracing.

Services are provided for by the administration as they hold the resources that come from the tuition fees paid by each student in the University. The LA may lobby and push for resolutions to demand in behalf of the students for services that are otherwise withheld.

Officers are expected to implement institutionalized projects under their respective offices. Failure to do so may be grounds for impeachment.

Martha Elisse Teves

By Martha Elisse Teves

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