Words by Charles Alison Rivera
Last October 17, College Freshman Council representatives convened for the University Freshmen Bloc Assembly (FBA) to deliberate what positions each would be taking this A.Y. 2020-2021.
The eight representatives, first introduced last October 12, would compose the bulk of the UPLB University Freshman Council (UFC). College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) representative Jericho “Ico” Antonio Urbano would later be announced as the chairperson last October 17, beating College of Development Communication (CDC) representative Jo Louis Camiguing in a coin toss following a double tiebreaker.
Then, on October 24, the UFC revealed that College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM) representative Aeron Kim Delos Santos and Camiguing were designated as the vice-chairs for Student’s Right and Welfare (STRAW) and Community Right and Welfare (CRAW), respectively.
Taking over as secretary-general and deputy secretary-general is College of Human Ecology (CHE) representative Kate Bernadette Rañoco and College of Agriculture and Food Science (CAFS) representative Michael John Flores, respectively.
Meanwhile, Jericho Angelo Dionisio of the College of Economics and Management (CEM) will take over as the Operations Manager, Aliyah Reign Mata of the College of Engineering and Agro-Industrial Technology (CEAT) as the Treasurer, and Jonathan Parbo of the College of Forestry and Natural Resources (CFNR) as the Public Information Officer.
Plans for the freshmen
In an interview with the Perspective, Urbano discussed the priority programs of the 2020-2021 UFC under his leadership, detailing the need of a student support system and centralized information dissemination campaign for freshmen whose first year in college is bizarre compared to the traditional first college years.
“Aside from this, [the UFC] will be pushing for the immediate publication of the Freshies Feedback Form, which will be a Google Form that any ‘freshie’ can easily access even with limited internet connectivity,” Urbano added.
A graduate of Ateneo de Manila Senior High School (ASHS), Urbano focused his campaign on addressing mental health of fellow freshman students, encouraging youth empowerment, pushing the right to quality education, and helping victim-survivors of sexual harassment, among others.
“[The UFC officials] have reaffirmed that as a council, we will be prioritizing projects that cater to the academic, socio-political, and mental well-being of the freshies, especially taking into account the new mode of learning which we are now all adjusting to and the current political climate of the country,” the UFC chair stated.
Some of the common proposed programs of the current representatives to the UFC are (1) Kaagapay project for information dissemination, (2) online ‘kumustahan’, and (3) addressing mental health issues.
For the first, Urbano aims to launch information dissemination platforms of UFC through Viber, Telegram, and other messaging applications that would strengthen the bonds of the freshman community, and ensure that no freshman would be left behind.
For the second, Delos Santos proposes the use of online conferencing programs such as Discord and Zoom “to promote social awareness and participation for the freshman students to expand their connections and circle of friends”. Moreover, its main goal is to serve as an avenue for expression of stress, agitation, and other problems freshman students are encountering in this remote learning modality.
As for the third, Camiguing suggested a monthly event called “IsKausap” where there will be educational discussions, motivational talks, and activities headed by medical professionals. The program also aims to offer free psychological services to students in need through the help of the university administration, particularly the Office of Counseling and Guidance (OCG) under the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs (OVCSA), and other relevant partners.
When asked what programs would the new UFC hold over from the previous UFC, Urbano said that there are plans to continue initiating the All Freshman Council Assembly (AFCA) for freshman council consultations, strengthening their manpower through the volunteer corps for UFC, and launching educational discussions (EDs) that revolves on topics like Martial Law and #JunkFRB movement.
“Moreover, [the UFC] hopes to establish bonds with other UFC/FBA councils in other UP units and release statements and collaborate on joint projects just as the UPLB-UFC did last year,” he added.
According to him, some students aired their concerns on the current academic situation, specifically about the amount of school work load, confusion on Learning Management Systems (LMS), and thoughts of shifting to another degree program. To address these issues, the UFC chair vowed to ‘work hand-in-hand’ with the university officials and faculty through bilateral discussions and consultations.
The UFC ensures continuous student support to the freshmen of the university, especially in these trying times that students need representations to stand for their advocacies.
“As such, the UFC reaffirms their commitment to ensuring that we represent the freshmen to the best of our ability. I am not alone in the UFC, the UFC is a council. As such, all of us carry the task of representing the freshmen as truly as we can,” Urbano said.
Furthermore, he said that the council will always be open for dialogue to those who see the student body “lacking” in their efforts of student representation. Urbano noted that the UFC will be open to criticism and will acknowledge then rectify any shortcomings as soon as they can for the betterment of their public service.
“If we are to ever make mistakes, we will acknowledge them and we will rectify these mistakes as soon as we can,” Urbano assured.
On the previous roster
Last August, Riane Carlo Oquiza resigned as the 2019-20 UFC Chairperson because of his approved transfer to UP Diliman and his status as a “freshman”.
The former UFC Chair reiterated the Article IV Section 5. A. of the 1984 University Student Council-College Student Council (USC-CSC) Constitution, which states that a member of the UFC “must be a bona fide Freshman of the University.”
“In light of the pandemic bringing about the resumption of the council roles dedicated to the UFC until the next academic year 2020-2021 and my recent acceptance into the UP Diliman as a transferee, I am officially stepping down in my role as the UFC chairperson effective immediately,” said Oquiza in his resignation letter. [P]