Among these changes include the lifting of the freshman recruitment ban.
For years, the freshmen recruitment ban has prevented new UPLB students from joining student organizations.
Though the initial goal was to ensure that freshmen would not be overburdened in their starting years in the university, many have since decried this bureaucratic measure as something that “demonized” organizations.
In a 2018 manifesto from the University Student Council (USC), they said that “organizations are said to lead good students astray as exemplified by the guidelines presented to freshmen applying for university dormitories. Similarly, they are deemed as eyesores and nuisances by the administration when the truth of the matter is that at the forefront of every organization’s goals is the improvement of the self and the community.”
The 2018 USC roster was not alone though, as a Twitter poll from the Perspective back then showed that 76% of the respondents “disagreed” with the ban (READ: UPLB students say ‘no’ to freshman recruitment ban—poll).
After years of appeals, in an organization orientation held by UPLB-OSA with the students last February 24, the ban was lifted, much to the praise of the few members of student organizations that the Perspective interviewed.
“Having the freshman recruitment ban lifted is already a great step made [sic] which gives freedom to students to organize and be able to lead,” said Erika Leila Gonzales, Secretary and Public Committee Head of the UPLB Pre-Med Society.
Philippine Association of Nutrition Alpha-Omega (PAN-AO) Vice President and Membership Committee Head Alexandra Marie Ambong likewise approved this move, emphasizing the importance of “honing” the students as early as their first step in the university.
“It is then important to establish such initiation: of recruiting members even just in the students’ first semester in the university, thus creating such impact can hone the students in an earlier time,” she said.
But the lifting of the freshman recruitment ban was far from being the only change in the new org registration guidelines.
How will org registration work in UPLB now?
Interested readers may read the revised org registration guidelines here.
Republic Act (RA) No. 11053 or the Anti-Hazing Act of 2018 factored heavily into the decision-making process. Its influence can be found in replacing “recognition” in “Recognition of Student Organizations in UPLB” to “registration” (on the grounds that the term was used more in the aforementioned act) and the removal of a provision on total adviser accountability when an “unwanted” incident takes place.
In the latter, RA No. 11053 requires two university representatives to attend initiation events, with an additional resolution being that advisers are now required to be present in organization activities.
One striking detail from these changes is that, despite the lifting of the freshman recruitment ban being in full swing, fraternities and sororities are exempted from this. The reasoning behind this is that “RA 11053 does not particularly discourage or prohibit the recruitment of freshman students; it just encourages the idea of transparency, accountability, and consent from both parties involved (applicant and student organization).”
Besides minor changes such as replacing “recognition” in the name “Recognition of Student Organizations in UPLB” with “registration” and reducing the minimum number of members for a group to be classified as an “organization,” some guidelines were removed entirely on various grounds.
Among these include requiring organizations to be involved in community service annually and the submission of a financial report.
On the latter concern, the said proposal was adopted that the passing of financial reports was “unnecessary,” as student organizations were not funded by the university. On the former, while it was agreed that it will no longer be requiring organizations to do it yearly, they are instead encouraged through the “proposed Extension and Public Service Cluster of the office.”
It was also decided that the spots for two organization advisers will be open to either those who have had histories with their respective organizations, those who were never members, or one from both categories. Retrieved notes from the meeting detailed that the “competency” and “familiarity” are better suited as criteria.
Some of the retained guidelines include the need to submit organizational by-laws and constitutions (to be accomplished in accordance with UP Code’s guidelines) and the submission of activity permits and Letters of Information (LOIs) when conducting activities, with the activity permit “entailing accountability” on organizations. On the passing of by-laws and constitutions, it was explained that the OSA will be providing a “pro forma constitution” that can be filled-up and signed by concerned organizations “having an issue.”
Regarding activity permits, Ambong says that some policies “need improvement,” calling some of these as “far fetched from idealism.”
“… the need to acquire an activity permit – most of the time, the organizations cannot access the site because of system error [sic], thus the guidelines for the signatories also need further revision. But since they are still in progress …,” Ambong explained her example.
On paperwork, the processing of documents was shortened to only including the following forms: Application for Registration, Adviser’s Profile and Membership Roster, Adviser’s Pledge, and Certificate of Correctness and Completeness.
“… the previous guideline entail[ed] the submission of [seven] official forms for the registration process and I think some of it were unnecessary and redundant. As the point person of my organization who manages the org registration, the approved revision of reducing it only into four official forms greatly saves time and effort,” Kirk Michael Dollero, Secretary and Academic Affairs Committee Head of UPLB Volleyball Club said.
He added that there were other changes in terms of recruitment.
“Other changes include reducing the quotas for reporting, removing the need to conduct FRAs, and limiting the screen time since not all have enough resources such gadgets and stable internet connection,” Dollero explained.
Hopes for org recruitment
On the value of student organizations, Dollero said that “they are great avenues to hone what they already know, apply them [on] the real setting, and learn practical life skills which are not usually emphasized in the classroom.”
Given these new provisions, some organizations find ways to adjust in the remote learning setup to recruit organization hopefuls. This is despite concerns such as Internet instability and the lack of resources to conduct activities.
Looking back at the new guidelines, Dollero expressed hope that the administration would continue to uphold the demands of the students.
“I just hope that the administration would continue to heed other pressing matters and take it seriously as no students should be ever left behind, especially in these trying times,” Dollero concluded.
Despite the new normal, Ambong also valued the organization’s attainment to make connections and guidance for academic and socio-civic development.
“[it] is then important to establish such initiation: of recruiting members even just in the students’ first semester in the university, thus creating such impact can hone the students in an earlier time,” Ambong added. [P]
Photo by Juan Sebastian Evangelista