Candidates often grace the halls of the University during the campaign period with echoes of promises they will enact should they be given the chance to lead in the upcoming academic year. These are what attract the students—the hope that proper student representation can lead to a better school year with experiences better than before, and more opportunities offered.
Setting aside differences
Every candidate who ran in the elections had their own plans of action (POA). The main goal for every college president each academic year is to make their constituents’ college experience better. Iliana Tan, Gokongwei College of Engineering (GCOE) President, emphasizes the importance of having aligned visions among the elected University Student Government (USG) officers in order to accomplish their goals.
As every college differs in culture, each candidate also has a different vision for their college, and there are times when not everyone from their slate gets a seat after the elections. For Rastine Pinlac, College of Computer Studies (CCS) President, political parties do not matter upon taking responsibility as an elected USG officer. “I feel like it’s really basing it on how could you actually communicate and try to set aside the differences,” Pinlac explains.
Each elected also has their own approach to make sure that most, if not all, of his or her constituents are involved in every bit of decision making. Tan shares her own strategy, “What we did was we gathered numbers from the different batch units. It’s like a decentralized communication system where they formed a communication council that’s composed of the communications chair for the Engineering College Government (ECG) and the batch units. Everytime there are announcements, we blast it through that hotline.”
Contrary to what many would think, working with officers elected from a different political party is not a big deal for these incumbents. “What matters most is the relationship that you build with them because if you already establish that relationship, that’s when you can make a better project. I don’t really have a hard time in dealing with them,” says Alex Penales, college resident of Br. Andrew Gonzalez College of Education (BAGCED).
Similar to Penales, College of Science (COS) President EJ Labios explains that working with elected officials from a different party is not much of a problem. He also adds that complications arose when the elected officials began to plan out the programs of Science College Government (SCG) for the entire trimester due to distinct program proposals by the newly elected officials.
This obstacle was quickly resolved, however, as Labios points out that they discussed among themselves in order to align the vision they plan for the SCG. Once they found common ground, it became easier for the officers to finalize their plans for the entire academic year.
“Essentially everything else that’s personal, you have to let go as an elected,” he adds.
Still in the pipeline
For some of the incumbents, the projects they initially sought out to do are still in the process of becoming a reality. For GCOE, the college government will soon be carrying out the Asian Engineering Camp on September 1 to 4. Another project being set in motion is Gradspeed, a flowchart fixing system in which students can adjust their flowcharts. The ECG will also still be hosting its annual Engineering Summit, which will now be graced by students from all over South East Asia.
Out of the three BAGCED projects, only the Student Educators Convention was implemented last term, while the other two are planned to be executed this term. Meanwhile, CCS prides in their improved One CCS Council and the community development projects. On the third term, Pinlac and the college government are hoping to host Hackathons, a kind of case competition, which were originally planned for their first term.
As for the College of Science, the SCG executed several programs to assist COS students, particularly Tungo, an advocacy series that allowed students to experiment on new things which featured different areas of specialty.
Conflicts are inevitable in implementing projects. College Presidents pointed out what hindered their different plans among other complications. Tan struggles greatly in coordinating with the administration, especially on projects that involve external affairs. “The admin have their own thing [as well]. It’s hard to insert yourself in that sphere,” she laments.
Pinlac reveals the main inconvenience encountered by the Computer Studies Science Government (CSG) is filing the required paperwork before and after the activity. He elaborates that the CSG, particularly the documentations committee, feel an immense amount of pressure when it comes to filing paperwork as they are required to finalize the project details three months before the event proper or, in a worse case scenario, in one term.
The committee also encounter problems after the event because they are pressured by the administration to finalize the post-act paperwork in a span of one month. Pinlac expresses his resentment on the current procedures, stating that student organizations should not be pressured quickly because the planning processes and proper paperwork take a great deal of time.
For BAGCED, the lack of interest from the students in attending their events serves as a major hindrance to their projects’ success. “Most of the time they won’t really go, not unless it’s required or not unless there is an incentive, especially if it’s on a weekend,” Penales adds.
On the other hand, the two primary obstacles that the SCG faced were deficiency of materials and excessive workload from academics. “Some of the projects, especially those that were not implemented, we had difficulty with the logistics and money, as well, on how finance them.” Labios explainsa. “In general, the thing [that weighs] on us the most was the academic load of our different officers, and I really had to take that into account. That’s why there were projects that pushed through because of the different priorities that everyone had.”
In a survey conducted by The LaSallian on the students’ appraisal of the USG projects and events, it was found that 62.5 percent do not attend events hosted by their college and/or batch government, while 80 percent of students go to such events for the sake of incentives being given out by their professors.
Further, 71 percent of the respondents have had their share of experience as central committee members in one of the USG projects or events and 93 percent join such committee as they see it as a good place for learning.
Despite its issues, a sizable chunk of the student body still agrees on the relevance of the batch government, with 32 percent rating it 4 out 5, with 5 being the highest, followed by 24.2 percent grading it a 2. It entails that worst comes to worst, Lasallians are still giving the USG a chance to give them the representation and governance that they deserve.