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LA rescinds unconstitutional LOA rule for officers, ratifies online learning recommendations

The Legislative Assembly (LA) agreed to overturn amendments to the partisanship guidelines for University Student Government (USG) officers in a session held on Zoom last January 22. In the same meeting, legislators also approved a resolution on an online learning policy recommendation to be submitted to the Academics Council.

Reversing unconstitutional amendments

In a special session last week, the LA added a clause to the partisanship guidelines that would allow any elected officer to file a leave of absence (LOA) to support candidates during the elections without penalties. However, the Judiciary Department pointed out that the new rule was unconstitutional. Article XXIV, Section 5 of the 2009 USG Constitution explicitly states that only incumbent officers running for office may file an LOA.

Chief Legislator Officer in Charge Brendan Miranda clarified that while the provision was inconsistent with the constitution, it is only “officially unconstitutional” if a judicial hearing is held. Thus, officers who had filed an LOA and participated in election events such as the Miting de Avance are still officially on leave. The new changes will only take effect once the resolution is approved and published on the USG’s social media pages.

Legislators had also previously added a provision on free speech, which proponents now removed due to “questions regarding it being an infringement to the electeds’ right to free speech,” CATCH2T23 LA Representative Allen Aboy said, adding that it is still under review by the Judiciary.

The Judiciary also appealed to change back the text to mention all USG officers, appointed officers included, and not just elected officers. Voting 5-0-0, the Assembly approved the resolution.

Online learning suggestions

Legislators had also put forward a resolution that recommends changes to online learning policies based on the results of Operation E-ducation: Reimagining Online Learning, a survey disseminated last December to gather data on students’ online learning conditions.

The survey, which gathered a total of 1,099 respondents from both the Manila and Laguna campuses, found students raising concerns over heavy workload, limited graded output formats, and attendance and class participation policies. 

The proponents recommended that the Vice Chancellor for Academics formulate a syllabus template with a concrete timetable of activities and tasks each week, citing complaints from respondents that academic tasks often take more than five hours to complete.

The proponents also suggested changes to graded outputs, specifically by adding standardized guidelines on deadlines and expanding options provided to students. Students should be given one-week intervals between tasks, the resolution read, while minor and major requirements should be announced at least a week and a month ahead, respectively. Reasonable time frames and allowing students to backtrack questions in online examinations should also be implemented.

Faculty should also consult with classes on requirements to allow for more individual tasks instead of group outputs as respondents said that “it is difficult to work with people you [have] never met personally.” Respondents also demanded that faculty lead lectures, especially on technical topics, instead of assigning students to do reports.

Under the proposal, approved absences should cover internet connectivity problems and power outages, while attendance in synchronous sessions should be removed from the grading system, instead giving more weight to class participation. 

The resolution was unanimously approved.

*With reports from Isabela Marie Roque

By Kim Balasabas

By Frank Santiago

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