The new set of University Student Government (USG) leaders have begun work on their plans and initiatives for the current Academic Year (AY) just weeks after they were proclaimed winners of Make-up Elections 2021. With only two terms in office, the electeds are racing against time to actualize their plans of action.
As the learning setup for Lasallians remains online, the student leaders promise to focus more on academic policies this time around, while ensuring transparency and enforcing the ratified constitutional amendments.
Planning for the student body
With the second term of the AY underway, each of the Executive Board (EB) members share the various projects they have in store for the University. As the remaining terms are online, USG President Maegan Ragudo shares that her office aims to prioritize three key areas: education recovery, crisis response, and better student services. With each area encompassing an issue that students have faced throughout the course of the academic year, she bares that their plans include “ongoing deliberations for the tuition fees next Academic Year and most importantly, improving the USG and the University’s grievance system and student services.”
For USG Executive Treasurer Noel Gatchalian, granting more scholarships and financial grants to students remains his main focus. Specifically, he hopes to continue projects such as the Lasallian Scholarship Program and the student loan program. “We have a lot more projects in store, [such as] the online mobility grant which seeks to be able to give out different kinds of gadgets, pocket WiFi to students who are in need,” he shares.
Moreover, USG Vice President for External Affairs Cate Malig is focused on raising awareness on the upcoming 2022 National Elections. Starting with Usapang Babae, Usapang Botante: A Forum on the Women’s Vote, a webinar hosted alongside St. Scholastica’s College Manila last March 25, the office aims to organize and host similar events by partnering with other student councils and youth-led organizations.
Meanwhile, USG Executive Secretary Annika Silangcruz puts forward her plan on creating a virtual platform for activity processing. “Given the complexity of the platform, it will need a lot of time to build and test. Hopefully, by the end of my term, the future USG elected officers could finally use this since rushing this project would be difficult since the platform might be prone to bugs,” she expresses.
As of press time, USG Vice President for Internal Affairs Jaime Pastor has not responded to The LaSallian’s interview request.
Maximizing a shortened term
Despite the limited time to implement projects, the EB officers have different approaches on how to maximize their two terms in office. Prioritizing the academic policies that are pertinent to the continuation of Lasallian education is her office’s mandate, Ragudo shares, explaining that her office immediately began lobbying proposals on academic policies, specifically on online learning.
Malig, meanwhile, intends to focus on “quality over quantity” as her office plans to partner with various organizations in implementing projects and policies to avoid being “spread too thin.” She furthers, “We realized early on that it would be better to conserve our efforts and resources on bigger projects with more significant impacts to maximize our time in office.”
Similarly, Silangcruz believes that “less is more.” Instead of increasing the number of projects that her office holds, she finds it proper to create projects that are lasting and significant. “We have to be realistic with the goals we set for ourselves,” she says, highlighting the fact that they “don’t have a whole academic year to implement these projects.”
Though being limited to two terms is not ideal, Gatchalian is undeterred in maximizing the projects that he aims to complete. “We are really planning so much for this student body,” he emphasizes, “and it doesn’t matter to us that we’re only given two terms rather we just really have to work and make sure that these projects have been implemented.”
Onward with changes
The USG also welcomed amendments to its current Constitution this year—a first since its ratification in 2009—after 91.45 percent of total voters during the Make-up Elections were in favor of said changes. Some of the amendments called for the formal inclusion of units such as the Office of the Ombudsman, Laguna Campus Student Government, and the Office of the Chief Legislator under the Legislative Assembly, among others.
Ragudo emphasizes that these constitutional amendments “strengthen the USG’s foundations” apart from ensuring the transparency and accountability of those elected. She also reveals that the Office of the President will be working with the Judiciary to help establish units like the Office of the Chief Legislator and the Committee on Officer Development.
Coordination with other EB members remains important in adapting to the changes made, Malig says, as the constitutional plebiscite includes changes to Article VIII, which covers national issues.
Meanwhile, Silangcruz’s office implemented major changes, such as the establishment of the Commission for Officer Development and the transfer of the Department of Activity Approval and Monitoring (DAAM) as a committee under the Office of the Secretary.
Looking to work collaboratively with other offices, the Office of the Treasurer is geared toward accountability and transparency as Gatchalian advocates for “accountable financial transparency” within the USG and seeks to improve on the transparency reports released termly via the USG Facebook page.