New student orgs reach out to new heights

With the goal of broadening student horizons beyond the classroom, the Aspiring Organizations Accreditation Committee (AOAC) has welcomed AJA Animo, Habitat for Humanity-Green Chapter, the Green Music Collective (GMC), and DLSU PRISM as the newest additions to the University’s cadre of student organizations  last July 27. 

As the organizations prepare to set out into the next Academic Year (AY) 2020-2021 against the backdrop of a global pandemic, The LaSallian sits down with each organization’s respective incoming Executive Board (EB) members to discuss their plans and challenges as they begin to make their mark in the Lasallian community.

An invigorated march

Among the newly-accepted organizations, DLSU PRISM stands out with the fanfare it received after its accreditation was announced by the University Student Government (USG). The success of DLSU PRISM follows years of attempts to build an accredited LGBTQ+ student organization in DLSU.

DLSU PRISM’s Founding President Josher Quizon, who hails the accreditation as a “huge step” for the LGBTQ+ community,  narrates that his vision for an LGBTQ+ organization coincided with the USG’s initiative to build up LGBTQ+ advocacy in the University. From simply being vision, Quizon proudly says that the project has turned into a “journey that spanned many months”.

Quizon admits that the organization would not have been possible if it were not for the combined effort of the USG, CSO, and sympathetic students and organizations inside and outside the University. “Not many people knew anything about starting an organization. I felt blind at first because I didn’t have a person who has been there before, to give me advice on what to do,” he narrates. 

The young organization has already seen success in previous months, with more than 140 people signing up during its call for advocates. Quizon promises to put the oganization’s focus on “meaningful subjects and topics” on the LGBTQ+ community and “fostering inclusivity and equality” among Lasallians.

A journey awaits

AJA Animo, meanwhile, has set its sights to promote Korean culture within the University. The organization’s President, Camille Yu, narrates that she and a few friends initially started to conceptualize the organization after seeing the success of student activities inspired by Korean pop culture. These activities, Yu says, allowed them to release their “inner fan side”.

The organization’s planned activities for the next AY include webinars, Korean language classes, dance workshops, advocacy campaigns, and a training program for new officers. Yu assures that the organization is “continuously planning and strategizing” events to be prioritized as student activities remain online.

With the slogan “A Journey Awaits”, Yu hopes that AJA Animo will not only be known as a “Kpop org” but serve as a bridge between Korean and Filipino cultures.

Feeling the music

For GMC President Taryn Espiritu, her goal is to put life back into the self-described “informal collective”. A music enthusiast, Espiritu narrates that although GMC already existed when she entered the University, the organization was in a poor state: its core members have either graduated or were engaged in other priorities and the organization was unaccredited.

With help from sympathetic faculty, Espiritu was able to gather band members to continue GMC. Despite having only 17 members as of press time, she is determined to make the collective work.

GMC at least enjoyed a smooth start as its accreditation requirements were accomplished prior to the start of community quarantines last March. Although she admits that the COVID-19 crisis still poses a significant challenge, Espiritu is resolute in carving a place for GMC.

Already, GMC has outlined a number of activities for the following year. “We plan to hold events such as online performances, jamming and other activities that would help foster a musical community…Music is better when shared,” Espiritu explains.

Building from the ground up

A mission centered on community development is certain to face challenges this year, but Habitat for Humanity-Green Chapter President Margaret Liu is undeterred. While the organization’s main goal is building houses or “habitats” for its partner communities, she shares that it also looks into blending in programs that “strengthen the foundation” of residents to build “dignified and sustainable” communities.

For now, Habitat for Humanity-Green Chapter’s is set on expanding its reach within the Lasallian community, something that Liu admits is the organization’s greatest challenge in an online setting.  Nonetheless, Liu is eager to see the organization take its first steps. “We are confident that in DLSU, there are many people who are willing to invest in the advocacies that resonate with them. Now more than ever, we hope to bring people of all courses together to collaborate on improving the lives of our partner communities all over the country,” she says.

From the starting point

Although they have made it past the first round of accreditation, the new student organizations are now tasked with keeping up with the standards laid out for student organizations. The Student Activities Manual stipulates that the newly-accepted organizations must undergo a one-year probation period before they may receive full accreditation.

The biggest challenge for fledgling organizations is meeting the required grade of 80 percent, explains CSO Chairperson Nicolle Bien Madrid. Should newly-accepted organizations fail to meet the grade, their accreditation will be revoked.

Madrid says that internal problems such as “lack of communication and coordination” are common issues for new organizations. Left unresolved, these issues may ultimately lead to the organization’s failure to comply with the requirements set by CSO and the Office of Student Leadership, Involvement, Formation and Empowerment.

Raising funds will also prove difficult. The Annual Recruitment Week (ARW), usually held on Term 1 of every AY, normally provides student organizations with a stream of revenue from membership fees. But with online classes still the norm in the next few months, ARW revenues may prove hard to come by.

Yu also adds that their organization is “discouraged” from holding fundraising activities while the Lasallian community is still mostly online. Although disappointed with funding constraints, Yu is set to “up” their game through emphasis on creatives and publicity.

On the other hand, Madrid says that the incoming CSO EB is considering if financial assistance can be extended to organizations who do not reach the target revenue for ARW. Madrid adds that the AOAC is still set to discuss possible changes to the accreditation process in light of the pandemic.

“The current pandemic is one of the biggest challenges [organizations] will face. Even the current accredited organizations are facing the same problem,” the CSO Chairperson admits.

But despite these challenges, these new student organizations all stand ready as they face their first forays into engaging the Lasallian student community in the coming months.

ERRATUM: October 29, 11:01 pm

Due to miscommunication, an outdated version of the article was previously posted. It stated that Habitat for Humanity-Green Chapter was unable to comment. The article has been updated to include the organization’s insights. The paper sincerely apologizes for the error.

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