Both neophytes to elected positions in the University Student Government (USG), Office of the Executive Secretary (OSEC) Co-Director for Operations and Logistics Patty Santiago, running under Alyansang Tapat sa Lasallista (Tapat), and Arts College Government (ACG) Chief of Staff Jewel Limjoco, running under Santugon sa Tawag ng Panahon (Santugon), aspire to train and empower the University’s student leaders while also enhancing the student government’s information dissemination initiatives.
On their background
The LaSallian: You have both held multiple leadership roles inside and outside the USG. How would you evaluate your performance in these positions?
Patty Santiago (Tapat): I think that having three years of experience in HR&D (Human Resources and Development) really allowed me to connect with people…I got their opinions, their beliefs, [and] their heart. And with that, I was able to create events that were…catered for them. I want to continue pursuing that passion but elevated this time in the USG.
Jewel Limjoco (Santugon): One of my goals in the next academic year is to really empower leaders, not just USG leaders but [also] aspiring leaders in the University. And one of my thrusts is Empowered Lasallian Leadership and Efficient Office Management because as an Executive Secretary, you really have to ensure internal management in the USG.
My first job in the USG was actually an executive of the Office of [the] Executive Secretary, and the next year, I was able to do internals in the batch government…And now I currently work for the Arts College Government as the Chief Operating Officer..[I] was really able to get to know the everyday problems of our USG leaders. And I saw that there was a need to check up on their welfare on a daily basis to really ensure that they’re well equipped to serve the student body through proper training and development programs.
The LaSallian: How have these past experiences prepared each of you for the role of Executive Secretary, especially since neither of you have held an elected position?
Santiago: I’ve been in OSEC for two years now. [During my] first year, [I was] under the human resources and office management sector. We were able to connect with the student leaders more, and we were able to identify which aspects that they need to elevate and empower themselves in…For the second year, I was more into the different processes for OSEC in general and that really allowed me to see a whole new perspective…I know that I’m able to put my valuable inputs from an outsider’s perspective as well as from a person who’s fresh to this process and who could [give] inputs and improvements.
We actually have [a] process similar to a Student Services Hub, but where all the processes would be uploaded. We could pass the pre-acts there, connect with SLIFE (Student Leadership Involvement, Formation and Empowerment), DAAM (Department of Activity Approval and Monitoring), etc. It’s really a more efficient process for USG. With that being said, I think that my past experiences would allow me to elevate OSEC and empower my co-student leaders to become better versions of themselves.
Limjoco: That’s true, I actually never was an elected…But I believe that anyone has the ability and capability to serve the University. Through my experiences that I mentioned a while ago, I was really able to understand more on the operations process, the need to align all the operations, especially in terms of aligning partnerships with CSO (Council of Student Organizations), SMO (Student Media Office), and other groups.
One of my projects is to have a Student Group Communications Alliance to not just focus on operations, but go beyond operations. OSEC is not just about documentations but really empowering our leaders and building networks with one another across the University. And aside from that, currently, I’m [a] Human Resources intern in a company, Rockwell Land, so I was able to kind of get a feel of the corporate setting, something that could be applied in…the University level.
On their plans and platforms
The LaSallian: What plans or programs do you intend on prioritizing should you win the position?
Limjoco: One of my priorities is really centralizing communication in the University given that students receive emails, notifications—an influx of information—especially with social media fatigue, puro mga DP blast.
With this, I aim to provide a Lasallian Communication Hub, in partnership with the Vice President of Internal Affairs, Britney Paderes, where we can ensure efficient Student Services to the student body by personalizing information through USG email newsletters, a text blast system, and establishing an Animo mobile application where we can put information in one place that is accessible anywhere at any time.
Santiago: We actually also have a student services platform. We plan to…add another tab in the Student Services Hub where we could address student concerns immediately. We want to actualize student concerns in that sense…My personal platform is to revamp student leadership because the student leaders are…the ones who work [on] projects which enable the student body to become more aware of the situations happening around them…We want to revamp the student leadership in the sense that they won’t get entirely burnt out with their processes…we don’t want them to lose their flame.
We also want to space out the deliverables given to the student leaders so that they could enjoy the work that they love to do. So it’s really catered to the heart of student leaders because they are the ones who are guiding the students. It’s very crucial that we take care of them and empower them to continue doing what they do.
The LaSallian: What are your plans to improve or build upon the USG’s information dissemination activities?
Santiago: Similar to what has been said earlier, I think that Facebook has been oversaturated…We plan to use AnimoSpace [and] Canvas announcements. It’s very efficient for the students because these are the platforms they often look at…Although we don’t want to mix academics [with] extracurriculars, there are very important announcements such as enlistment concerns and schedules that need to be addressed efficiently.
We also plan to email students because these are, again, the platforms that they often look at. We also plan to partner or communicate with the different organizations or USG units in sharing the publicity posts so that everyone has a fair reach of all the announcements.
Limjoco: I actually agree with Patty that it’s important to maximize the platforms you already have now, like maximizing and integrating student services into AnimoSpace…One of my platforms is data-driven student involvement. It’s important to consistently get feedback from students…it’s important to really involve them [in] all the [facets] of the USG since you know how we can properly represent them through their feedback. we can really improve the training programs of the USG…and give quality-based initiatives.
On the status quo
The LaSallian: How would you assess the USG in terms of its transparency initiatives in the past year? Do you plan to improve or build upon the current process?
Santiago: If I may say so myself, we have a very efficient Transparency Report System, though I know there are a lot of improvements that could be…implemented along the way…It’s very important to do it periodically so that the students are aware of what’s happening in the system and how their student leaders are catering to their needs.
In addition to that, we also believe that these transparency reports also replicate how we train our student body to become more aware of other national affairs…If we as student leaders provide them with accurate transparency reports, then they would choose leaders in the Philippine government who will practice these traits as well. We aim for a bigger purpose, rather than just providing transparency reports within the USG: we have a vision of enabling our student body to become more competent citizens of the Philippines.
Limjoco: One of the mandates or roles of the Executive Secretary is to provide transparency to the student body, so we aim to strengthen this even more [through] termly transparency reports, termly open books, and we can really centralize what the USG has already accomplished internally…and really collate them all together [to] provide the transparency to our students…For USG leaders to properly represent them, they (students) need to know what’s happening within the USG and not just the USG, but also the Legislative Assembly and the AA (Activities Assembly).
The LaSallian: On the other hand, how would you evaluate OSEC’s internal training programs for officers?
Santiago: During my first year, I was in the human resources and office management position. We were the ones tasked [with] handling leadership training for our electeds. It was efficient; it was very good. However, the pandemic came, and we were forced to move to the online setup. In my second year, sadly, we weren’t able to have a Human Resources and Office Management Committee in OSEC.
There weren’t any leadership trainings this year, which is why we could see there were minor lapses in the communication among the electeds. And that’s one big factor why we weren’t able to efficiently and effectively disseminate information to the student body…There is a lot to improve on, and both our platforms covered those Student Leadership Development trainings.
Limjoco: One of my platforms [for] next year is strengthening the Commission for Officer Development. This is actually a newly established committee under OSEC based on the [2020 USG] Constitution. It’s going to be implemented in the next year…I really aim to strengthen training and development and member welfare and engagement among the USG leaders through standardizing training programs per college, especially department-specific, operations-wise partnerships; creating MOAs (memorandums of agreement); and closely collaborating with DAAM…and SLIFE where we can really align processes and operations and really build internally and strengthen how we disseminate information with one another.
This interview was edited for length and clarity.