When the holdover term began a few months back, many seats in the University Student Government (USG) were left vacant. However, appointments were made in the interim, and the role of executive secretary was given to then-Chief of Staff Annika Silangcruz, who now seeks to run for the same Executive Board position.
Running unopposed, Silangcruz, a candidate under Alyansang Tapat sa Lasallista (Tapat), tells The LaSallian of her plans to improve the USG’s internal records systems and expand its information dissemination and transparency initiatives.
On her background
The LaSallian: You had previously served as the Office of the Secretary (OSEC) Chief of Staff and were recently appointed as the interim Executive Secretary. How would you assess your performance in both roles?
Annika Silangcruz (Tapat): To be honest, during my year as chief of staff, it was a learning experience for me because I really didn’t know the ins and outs of the office. And I think, while I was able to learn so much in my position as chief of staff, being the interim executive secretary was a little more easier for me because I already knew the ins and outs now compared to before.
The LaSallian: How would you assess your performance in both roles?
Silangcruz: I think I would be able to say that I did much better as a chief of staff rather than being the appointed executive secretary because as interim secretary, I only had like two months, but for chief of staff, I had the whole year. So there was really a lot more that I was able to do with that time. And at this point, it’s really, you know, getting a feel and adjusting.
The LaSallian: Aside from being directly involved in OSEC’s work, what other factors do you think make you a good fit for the job?
Silangcruz: I think it also helps that I have previous experience in the USG. So for the past two years, I was also involved in other USG units such as my batch unit, FAST2017. And during my year as chief of staff, I was also part of the Arts College Government (ACG). So during my time in FAST2017, I was an executive for documentations and logistics, while for ACG, I was a project management executive. And these two positions really helped me, especially given that the executive secretary handles all administrative functions in the USG. So may it be like processing documents, record keeping, or taking the minutes of the meeting, my past two experiences were really, really helpful.
On transparency and publicity
The LaSallian: As you said, one of the main functions of OSEC is supervising the USG’s information dissemination activities. In what ways do you think the office can improve on this now that everything’s online?
Silangcruz: So for the past year, information dissemination really was done through the USG page, which I think was helpful to a certain extent. But this year, I want to fully utilize the USG groups, the Facebook groups per college and per batch, because even if we disseminate something from the USG page, it’s easier to cater to your specific audience when the platform’s are specifically for certain colleges, certain batches. And it’s really helpful that you get the batch units and college units to help you in disseminating those information as well.
The LaSallian: How do you plan to further encourage students to actively participate in the USG’s planned activities and projects?
Silangcruz: So I know that it’s not really easy to get students to participate, especially now that everyone experiences different kinds of problems—may it be technological problems or really just having internet connectivity problems. But I think what can really make students participate more is getting them involved because I, as a Communication Arts student, believe that research and being consultative really helps in creating programs or initiatives. And you have to make the students feel that we’re doing this for them. And the way to do that is [by] getting them involved, rather than creating projects or initiatives that you think would be what they need.
The LaSallian: When you say getting them involved, do you have a more concrete way of doing that?
Silangcruz: I think the best platform to use really would be surveys, especially in getting what they think about. For example, “What are the University issues that you see now?” or, “What do you think would help most in your University life?” Through those surveys, you get the idea of what kind of projects they really do need rather than what you think they need.
The LaSallian: What can you say about the OSEC’s transparency initiatives in the past academic year? Do you have plans to expand this program?
Silangcruz: The past year, we focused on the attendance of officers and their audit reports. But this year, I want to expand it by also releasing the minutes of the meeting, may it be for executive board meetings or executive committee meetings, as well as the Legislative Assembly meetings because that way, the students really know what’s going on in the USG, and they have an idea of its progress throughout the terms.
On internal management
The LaSallian: What do you think can be improved in the USG’s current internal records management given that the OSEC is in charge of record keeping?
Silangcruz: I think really it’s [on] establishing a proper system for these internal record keepings (sic) because the past year, we used Google Suite, and it was effective, though at the same time, while we have those platforms to record-keep everything, it’s also a matter of having people to help you and make sure that the data you collect is really well-written, well-researched.
The LaSallian: Do you have another specific platform other than Google Docs that you’re thinking about using?
Silangcruz: At the moment, it’s not really more of using what’s already available. It may sound ambitious, but if ever I become the executive secretary for the next two terms, I also want to lobby for a new platform that is much more streamlined per se. While the platforms being used now are really effective, it doesn’t really hurt to introduce new ones. And it doesn’t hurt that we make a new one, basically.
The LaSallian: How would you assess the current training programs of the USG in the online setup, and are there improvements that can be made?
Silangcruz: To be honest, we weren’t really able to execute training seminars, especially during the online setup kasi like I said earlier, it’s really hard to get fellow officers to participate rin, especially that we have to understand that not everyone has the same [internet] connectivity; not everyone has the same you know platform that they can use [and] devices. But this year, hopefully, we get to establish a better training system. This could be done through the Commission for Officer Development. So I want to ensure that in the roles of all USG officers, it’s efficient. And while the members of this commission are able to enlighten USG officers, I also want them to learn from these officers as well. So it’s a two way process, rather than just teaching what you know to a certain people and nothing comes back to you.