Batch and college units under the University Student Government (USG) are often viewed as the “student services” arm responsible for setting up help desks, conducting welfare checks, and disseminating important information through social media groups. They also act as the bridge connecting students to the USG Executive Offices.
However, student services and representation are only a part of their role under the USG. With each batch and college government having its own distinct initiatives, they are also tasked to fill the gaps that neither the USG Executive Offices nor the administration can provide to their constituents by lobbying needs-based policies and implementing advocacy projects.
Roles in review
According to the USG Constitution, college governments are the “highest governing body and representative authority of each respective college” and batch governments are the same for their batches.
In these college governments, the Executive Board (EB) is composed of the college president (CP), batch presidents, and batch legislators. It is their responsibility to handle college affairs, oversee the needs of various departments and batches, execute policies issued by the Legislative Assembly pertinent to their college, and organize and implement programs for their college.
Meanwhile, each batch government has an elected batch president, batch vice president, and batch legislator. Their roles include encouraging their batchmates to participate in batch, college, and University-wide programs and organizing initiatives for the “enhancement and development of the batch.”
The administrating EB of the different units has the jurisdiction to restructure their unit specific to their needs. Some college governments’ EB only has the CP as the elected, who then appoints a chief of staff and a chief of operations.
All batch and college units have committees dedicated to student services that cater to the student body’s concerns on administrative and academic matters. They also have to form committees for each of their operational functions, such as documentation, finance, and project management, to help them comply with the requirements of the USG Department of Activity Approval and Monitoring (DAAM) and the Office of Student Leadership Involvement, Formation and Empowerment (SLIFE) in crafting initiatives specific to students’ needs.
A trail of paperwork
Essentially, college governments create programs directly catered to the departments and student batches under them and assist the USG in addressing academic and non-academic concerns on a smaller scale.
College of Science President Jimson Salapantan explains that a project’s level of interactivity, logistical support, manpower, and funding are major considerations during the planning stages of initiatives they launch under his government unit. Once these plans are ironed out, the college governments defend the project’s Goals, Objectives, Strategies, and Measures, more known as GOSM, to DAAM and the USG Office of the Vice President for Internal Affairs at the beginning of each term, which serves as guidance in outlining activities and allocating funds per project.
The plans are then translated into paperwork after deliberations. Salapantan explains that after meetings with working committees and partners, pre-activity documents, which include proposals, forms, and permits, are subject to the approval of the DAAM or SLIFE. Following approval, several University offices are contacted to borrow equipment and reserve venues.
While the practice has continuously been in place, batch and college units are still challenged by the lengthy documentation process and the bureaucratic nature of processing approvals. “The delays often result from minor inconsistencies, like missing middle initials for some signatories or discrepancies in the required number of days for comprehensive program design,” Salapantan laments.
BLAZE2024 Batch President Juliana Aguilar adds that the “excessive amount of paperwork” needed to implement projects can sometimes impede their plans and lead to the discontinuation of some of their initiatives. She mentions that contingency plans, which include simplifying planning processes, are formulated by their unit in advance so that projects are not dismissed completely.
The batch and college governments also regularly conduct post-event participant evaluations to assess the impact of their projects. “The success of a project is measured through feedback from constituents,” FAST2021 Batch President Moira Pulumbarit says, explaining how essential it is in shaping future initiatives.
Given the numerous offices and positions in each government unit, some students find difficulty in classifying and distinguishing the purposes of each office. Izzie Epifanio (IV, PHM-LGL) recalls finding the positions and offices overwhelming during her first year and admits that there are still positions and offices whose purpose remains unclear to her.
On the other hand, Jonathan* (III, BS-LGL) shares that while he finds the distinction clear, communication between the different government units is necessary to reduce project overlap and maximize resources. “Units should have a more holistic approach when it comes to policy-making. There should be more projects and programs that are also intended for student development [and] more social events that would help forge connections,” Jonathan suggests.
Incumbent officers hope that the USG would play a more supportive role to their units to create large-scale projects, as college and batch governments “have not been as visible and have had less reach,” according to Salapantan. Aguilar believes that “this diversity in thinking can lead to a more comprehensive understanding of student needs [along with] solutions to address them.”
Pulumbarit also advocates for the integration of batch governments into larger University decisions. “By actively involving batch student governments…we can ensure that the student body’s unique needs and experiences are considered, leading to more effective and inclusive decision-making processes that benefit the entire University community,” she posits.
*Names with asterisks (*) are pseudonyms