As the governing body of 51 organizations, the Council of Student Organizations (CSO) continues to develop its processes to ensure that their member organizations “can achieve optimum performance” with their flagship projects. This includes their operations on activity approval and completion of requirements, which some students claim had been “excessive” due to tedious document reviews conducted by various signatories.
Now, the online shift has opened opportunities to improve the council’s practices, lessening needless requirements and simplifying document submission policies. And while the processes have eased up, concerns raised by supposed organization officers on the DLSU Freedom Wall Facebook page suggest that problems still abound.
Some members of CSO-led organizations point out the slow approval process and the tedious back and forth when operations committees recheck their documents. According to Denise*, an officer of a CSO member organization, these could have been settled faster with better communication.
“Minsan when they (CSO) recheck it, iba na yung magche-check, so ibang mali na naman ‘yung makikita,” she laments. “They should talk with each other…kasi minsan ‘yung mga mali na nakikita hindi naman talaga siya mali. Iba lang ‘yung pagkaka-interpret ng ibang tao.”
(Sometimes, revisions are conflicting because someone else rechecks the form. They should talk to one another because some revisions are not actually errors but rather a difference in interpretation.)
Denise further mentions how organizations arranged longer lead times to account for possible delays and to avoid demerits. For small activities under CSO, organizations would submit requirements at least two weeks before the event, whereas major events, which are reviewed by the Office of the Student Leadership Involvement, Formation and Empowerment (SLIFE), require a lead time of a month or even longer.
James*, another officer from another CSO-accredited organization, says that while he is satisfied with the current process, it can be frustrating at times whenever they receive a “questionable” pending status on the deliverables.
“These kinds of pends are somewhat a result of lack of transparency coming from CSO,” he opines, “as there were times when the comments that we received were the first time that we have heard of such rules.”
As CSO operations moved online during the quarantine, submitting activity requirements became easier, which student groups took advantage of by organizing more events. This increase in volume doubled the amount of activities that both CSO and SLIFE needed to check, leading to what organizations felt was a slow approval process.
Outgoing 46th CSO Chairperson Angel Sesante discloses that their team has received “a lot more PPRs (project proposal forms) [per] day compared [to] when we still [had] face-to-face classes.” Some of their backlogs, she reveals, stem from several pre-activity requirements that now go through them instead of SLIFE, adding to the increased workload from newly-accredited organizations.
“Our team sometimes experiences backlogs and failure to meet the lead time that we have set,” she explains. “We are currently looking at changing the lead time but as of now, no final decision has been made.”
While their executive board and executive committees have been conducting alignment meetings to resolve inconsistencies with their processes, Sesante notes these lapses cannot be completely eradicated as part of it boils down to “human error.”
“The Activity Processing and Screening and Activity Documentation and Management teams have made an internal consolidated list of pends, varying on if it is major or minor, to have a more objective means of checking,” the chairperson highlights. “It may not entirely eliminate human error from the equation, but it can reduce the subjectivity in activity approval as much as possible.”
Above all, Sesante maintains that they aim to prioritize well-being by limiting each member’s workload, especially amid the pandemic.
Despite the setbacks, CSO has stepped up in streamlining its operations this year, employing internal changes around the checking process with their committees. According to officers from CSO member organizations, they were also provided with an activity reference guide containing the links, templates, and other resources needed for their accomplishment of deliverables.
To better the current system, Denise imparts that internal alignment within CSO and to the involved organization must be met to avoid any confusion, especially when revisions are to be made.
“I guess it’s just making sure that everyone is on the same page, giving out the same information,” she says, adding that communicating difficulties ahead of time can help them adjust accordingly.
Meanwhile, Cristine*, an executive officer for one of the CSO member organizations, suggests retaining “the opportunity to voice concerns” would be beneficial in aligning CSO with the rest of its member organizations. She cites the process orientation workshops previously arranged by the council can be conducted again to orient members should there be changes with the process.
As for complaints on social media pages, SLIFE Coordinator for Operations Lounelle Godinez encourages students to use proper channels when bringing up their concerns or queries around the processes as their office is always open to listen to suggestions.
“If they will just really come to us and tell us how we can improve, if they really have suggestions, we really appreciate those things…since they are part of the process [and] they participate in the process,” Godinez affirms.
Names with asterisks (*) are pseudonyms.