The sole candidate for vice president for internal affairs, Jaime Pastor of Alyansang Tapat sa Lasallista (Tapat) brings two years of legislative experience with him as he pursues a seat in the Executive Board. He gives his assessment on student life in the online setup and shares some of his plans, one of which is to relieve batch government officers of receiving enlistment-related concerns from students.
On his background
The LaSallian: You spent a couple of years, right, as a Legislative Assembly representative, and recently you were appointed as the Chief Legislator, the successor of Mr. Willem de Castro. As a legislator, as a member of the LA, how well do you think you did?
Jaime Pastor (Tapat): I would say that my first time as an LA representative was definitely a learning year for me. I don’t think I performed the best at that year. And I think that was due to me trying to adjust to a new frame of thinking to the LA…So there was a kind of shift to that. But with my reelection, I was very thankful because the majority floor was very accommodating with each other, especially with everyone bouncing off ideas with each other. It made it super easy to work together as LAs, especially during the constitutional plebiscite [deliberations] and the transition to the online term and trying to make sure the USG is still running at that time.
The LaSallian: Now, speaking of the shift you mentioned from executive of a batch government to LA. This time, you’ll be making a shift again ’cause LA is a legislative position. But OVPIA, that’s an executive position. How prepared do you think you are to make that transition?
Pastor: Well, I think if I were to be elected in office, the first thing that I would do is try to find an EXECOM (Executive Committee) team behind me to make sure that we make the executive projects that OVPIA will be doing over the next year as smooth as possible…But I think the position of OVPIA also entails lobbying with the admin as well. And that requires research drafting of policies as well, which I can translate from my time as an LA representative.
The LaSallian: So to what extent are you prepared then, if you can summarize that?
Pastor: Okay, I would say that I am about eight out of 10 prepared to put it in the number scale since there are things that I probably won’t be expecting.
The LaSallian: Now, besides your experience as a member of the USG these past years, what other factors do you think might lend you credibility as a candidate for OVPIA?
Pastor: Well, I did also take organizational work at the same time, namely with LSCS—La Salle Computer Society—and SPRINT (Society of Proactive Role Models INspiring Total Development)…So there I was able to practice my skills, in terms of linkages for university relations and project management for activities, while for SPRINT, the activity processing process is different than CSO organizations or USG positions, but I think the same concepts of project ideation and project management were still imbibed into me as one of their executives or AVPs (assistant vice presidents).
On student activities
The LaSallian: Now, moving away from your background and more into the matters that you’re expected to handle as prospective OVPIA. Let’s talk about what you have to say on student activities. What is your assessment [on] the way students [organizations] and USG bodies have shifted activities [to] the online platform?
Pastor: Well, first, I would like to commend the effort of transitioning our processes from the face-to-face setup to the online setup. However, I do believe that there’s still quite a lot of inefficiencies with the activity processes…It’s very vulnerable to mismanagement to no one’s fault. There’s also the added challenge of trying to translate any activities that you might think of into the virtual setup—so seminars, General Assemblies, like that. You have to figure out ways to try to give the same essence of having fun with the activities for extracurriculars or trying to execute projects that would reach the students as well.
The LaSallian: Since this shift towards the online platform, in University events, we’ve noticed that student participation has gone downhill. So do you think there’s a problem with student participation in USG events?
Pastor: I do think that we should try shifting away from synchronous webinars since I did notice that over the past years, especially from CSO or USG orgs, the success of a seminar is heavily reliant on the speaker and how well the speaker performs…And second, try to redefine how [an] activity should be conducted, especially seminars. We should look towards making them more interactive or making sure that there is some kind of engagement because I do think that with the online setup, there are less avenues for students to interact.
The LaSallian: Okay, so with that said, what USG activities or events will you give the most attention to?
Pastor: Well, in my office, I would mostly focus on lobbying efforts and making sure that our systems of response to student concerns or response to any issues with student welfare. We just make sure that we have systems in place so that we can answer those problems when they arise. But with regards to university events I think that we would have to start thinking [of] more creative approaches and reaching out to students. This could be in terms of how we do our publicities or whatnot.
The LaSallian: But is there any specific activity or event that you’d like to give most of your attention to?
Pastor: Well, for sure, the University Vision-Mission Week event, since that also is for charitable purposes as well…I’d make sure that we start preparations for that as fast as possible. Especially since it’s an event that I think the University would appreciate every so often.
On academic concerns
The LaSallian: As OVPIA, you’d also be overseeing some academic related concerns of students right. Now, what do you think needs to be improved about the entire online learning experience?
Pastor: I firmly believe that we need to make changes to the online class setup—make sure that work is more flexible; make sure that we’re able to balance our deadlines…So we need to make sure that coursework is still manageable, but at the same time, make sure that students actually get something out of their education without them feeling like they’re just doing tasks so that they can accomplish a course without doing any kind of learning. With regards to university processes, one of our platforms is to lobby for a document tracking system within the University…We’ll try to establish it within the USG, and then from there, take feedback on its implementation and try to improve it until such time we can lobby it to at least one of the [administration] offices, then make sure that when we do any university process, everything will be smoother, and the process will be more transparent with regard to the status.
The LaSallian: Now, lastly, even until now, enlistment is still a recurring problem for students, right…What can you do that the past vice president (sic) for internal affairs were not able to do, if you are to resolve the problem?
Pastor: Well, I think the first thing that we have to do is to try to move away from letting batch electeds receive student concerns since the way that usually happens is that, if a batch elected were to receive concerns, especially on enlistment, they would first try to process it within the batch and see if they can ask; if not, they would ask their college presidents; if not, they would ask the Executive Board team. But I think that’s way too bureaucratic or way too slow…I would first try to establish a sort of Google Form or some centralized way for students to send in their requests, and have the responses consolidated and opened to the college presidents and their student services team so that we can see what issues are popping up most frequently…[and] direct any questions that are targeted to specific colleges to their respective college presidents.
The LaSallian: So you were saying that you’ll create a Google Forms and then basically take the batch electeds and college presidents…in the sidelines somehow. So this will be done solely by the student services team nalang without the help of the batch electives and or CPs (college presidents)?
Pastor: Well, we would appreciate any help by the batch electeds if they knew but I think our first instruction would just be to make sure that the link is publicized throughout the whole University.