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UnivWeek, student activities remodeled for online platforms

One of the largest annual events in DLSU, University Vision-Mission Week (UVMW) 2020, also known as UnivWeek, was sent back to the drawing board.

This year’s UVMW celebration was set to last three weeks—one whole week longer than last year’s event—according to Project Head Jaydee Chung. But the energy and enthusiasm have been stifled by the COVID-19 crisis.

The Council of Student Organizations (CSO) was in the same boat, cutting back drastically on plans, rendered impossible to push through as is.

But all is not lost in Term 3. Christopher Villanueva, director of the Office of Student Leadership, Involvement, Formation and Empowerment (SLIFE), confirms that “student-led activities will still push through”—entirely online.

Getting in sync

With campus doors still shut for students, CSO organizations and units of the University Student Government (USG) have shifted to a modified activity approval process, devised by SLIFE in conjunction with CSO’s Activity Processing and Screening Team and the USG’s Department of Activity Approval and Monitoring (DAAM). 

This “temporary approval system”, explains CSO Executive Vice Chairperson for Activities and Documentation Carlos Mariano, is the modified version of a system tested during term break. It involves project heads emailing necessary pre-activity documents directly to their respective approving bodies on a per activity basis.

“It’s much like our [old] approval system at CSO, but it’s all done through email,” describes Mariano. The same is true for the USG, confirms DAAM Chairperson Genevieve Ang. Further, project heads are still required to log their submissions via a Google Forms tracking system prepared by their respective activity approval bodies. 

Submission of some documents will also be expedited, as minor activities “will [only] have to go through DAAM” for approval, explains Ang. However, documents for “all activities [requiring] SLIFE approval”, Villanueva clarifies, will still have to be checked by CSO or DAAM before being forwarded to SLIFE.

To improve the capacity of the activity approval system, Mariano cites that the Office of SLIFE has invested in a “new outsourced system” in the form of a paid add-on to the Gmail suite.

The finance and reimbursement side of events planning also shifted to “purely online” auditing of documents, shares CSO Executive Vice Chairperson for Finance Angel Sesante. When circumstances improve, though, the University’s Finance and Accounting Office will require all finance documents previously processed online to be resubmitted in hard copy.

The shift to online mode had not been without a hitch, however. 

Even Sesante admits, “I think that [the approval] process will take time before everyone gets to adjust,” reasoning that CSO operations have been used to “heavily relying on physical checking” of documents. The “sudden transition to online” and resubmission of hard copies, she considers, will only come as “additional work for everyone”. 

The implementation for third term’s activity approval processes began last June 25 for the pre-activity documents, while the submission of post-activity documents opened last July 10. “We’re more than ready for the term ahead,” assures Mariano, adding that CSO “will be adjusting accordingly” as the pandemic situation develops.

An alternate approach

“Student organizations are encouraged to come up with innovative, creative, and informative online activities for the students,” Villanueva asserts, mentioning that the execution would ultimately be up to the respective organizations. 

SLIFE would offer their support to facilitate whatever these new approaches may be, Villanueva guarantees. The office is also available to assist students in areas such as online processes, as well as accounting, procurement, and legal concerns.

Nevertheless, the vast shift in what is allowed and what is not has already complicated the situation for organizers of big projects.

The Lasallian Personal Effectiveness Program (LPEP), an activity overseen by SLIFE, was launched online last July 6, starting with asynchronous modules. Its synchronous modules will begin by July 21 until the end of the month, featuring live sessions and conferences via AnimoSpace. While Lasallian Ambassadors Coordinator Amir Austria reveals that sponsors would not make an appearance during the initial months of the event, they will be “invited to participate” by October during the planned LPEP, be it a physical or online setup, for the first term of the next academic year.

Further, this term’s LPEP was divided into synchronous and asynchronous parts—the latter consisting of “different sets of interactive and well-crafted online modules covering various aspects of Lasallian students,” Austria conveys.

Bringing back the music

Extensive preparations for UVMW, being one of the largest and highly anticipated events sponsored by the USG, had been underway as far back as December 2019, Chung reveals. Forced online, however, practically every aspect of the program has to be revised to take a “more considerate approach”—as she puts it—by ditching activities that require physical work and accommodating students with poor internet connection.

“We were talking na to band managers for Animusika, [but] after the quarantine, it was hard na to get into contact,” discloses Project Head Lou Zarcal, referring to the culminating production of every UVMW. Fellow Project Head Belle Ledesma says they are looking into ways of setting up an online concert, but laments, “We‘re [going to] heavily rely on technical teams to help us have this online concert.”

Bazaars, the main revenue generator of past UVMWs, will heavily rely on social media promotions this year. The project heads also plan to partner with small to medium sized enterprises, including restaurants around Taft. Ledesma says that by becoming the middle-man for these concessionaires, they will be able to ”support local businesses and small businesses to thrive during this quarantine.”

The team is also looking into online delivery services such as Lalamove or Grab to deliver the products. “We were also thinking of tapping ‘yung mga drivers who aren’t part of those [online] systems…We’re considering a lot of sectors,” Zarcal adds.

This is in line with this year’s UVMW theme—PINTIG: Pusong Lasalyano para sa Pilipino—which focuses on the value of service. On pushing the project’s boundaries, Ledesma relays, “Majority of our funds will be going to the main beneficiary,” which is KadaUno, De La Salle Philippines’ program to help homeless and marginalized sectors affected by the pandemic.

Zarcal understands that this year’s UVMW, scheduled for the first week of August, will be different from its predecessors—describing the program to be “donation-based” rather than “income-generating”. Focusing on delivering an “impactful” project to encourage students to participate, she shares, “What better way to actually showcase our [Lasallian] values [than by] continuing UnivWeek despite all these challenges.”

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