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UPLB student councils convene online for 4th SLC, mobilize to uphold democratic rights

The discussion was also centered on the student councils’ respective initiatives and future projects for the campus and its constituents.

Words by Mark Angelo Fabreag and Charleston Chang Jr.

As A.Y. 2021-2022 begins, councilors of UPLB University Council (USC) alongside 10 other College Student Councils (CSCs) convened in the fourth Student Legislative Chamber (SLC) last October 2, 2021. As stated in Section II, Article 6 of the 1987 Constitution of the UPLB Student Council, the SLC serves as the highest policy-making and constitutional body of UPLB USC.

To maintain order as the floor deliberations commenced, nine student councils proceeded to the Election of the Presidium. 

Presiding officer and USC Chairperson Siegfred Severino confirmed that Margarette Destreza is the selected SLC Secretary, as nominated by the USC. Meanwhile, Kyle Barber, Charlemagne Macarandan, and Benjie Gallero were selected as Floor Leaders. The latter three are respectively the student council chairpersons of the Colleges of of Agriculture and Food Science Student (CAFSSC), College of Engineering and Agri-technology Student (CEATSC), and College of Arts and Sciences (CASSC).

On monetary discussions, USC Treasurer Arveil Briones clarifies that there is a specific budget for every SC which is P13,333. SLC needs to approve the Project Procurement Management Plan (PMPP) of every SC and specify the amount where it will be used by each council for transparency and final approval.

The PMPP refers to paperwork used to process the purchase of materials or services with a specific party’s own money. The characteristics of the material or service, as well as the matter of which they are procured are listed in the PMPP.

Last UPLB Freshie Month 2021, the SC earned a total income of P17,216 and will be allocated to the Agapay Isko Movement as agreed by the SC body. 

United to serve

The SLC passed two resolutions. The first being Resolution 2021-07, titled “A Resolution Mandating All Student Councils Of The University of the Philippines Los Baños To Be Organization Members of the Serve The People Brigade-UPLB”.

After two separate storms severely affected the UPLB community, on top of having to deal with the Taal Volcano eruption and the start of the COVID-19 pandemic last 2020, Serve the People Brigade (STPB) – UPLB emphasized the need to provide assistance to those in need.

(RELATED STORY: Ulysses storms Southern Tagalog; UPLB students try to ‘stay afloat’ amid recent calamities)

Both USC and CASSC intensified the need of building a public service arm to unite all existing efforts of the UPLB community to extend its help to the communities in terms of calamities and socio-economic distress together with the UPLB administration.  

It requires at least two volunteers from the pool of officers or volunteer corps of all UPLB student councils to be part and be active members of the STPB-UPLB. 

Kasi talagang lumalaki yung sakop ng STPB-UPLB and it demands more people to sustain its function as one of the service public arm of the university [Because STPB-UPLB’s scope is widening and it demands more people to sustain its function as one of the service public arm of the university],” UPLB USC Community Rights and Welfare head Gio Olivar, who authored the resolution, explained. 

CHESC and CEMSC applauds STPB-UPLB for it will help the student community, recognizing that it is time to unite the whole UPLB community even amidst an online platform. 

“[The] STPB-UPLB helps a lot of students especially in this COVID-19 pandemic na stuck ang mga UPLB students sa Los Baños. I think it’s high time na talagang institutionalize natin pagiging parte konseho sa STPB-UPLB sapagkat hindi lamang ito para sa kanila kundi para sa […] tinutulungan nila na mas mapanaig pa tulong na maipapaabot pa sa beneficiaries ng STPB-UPLB,” CHESC Chairperson Chelsea Sison said.

[The STPB-UPLB helps a lot of students especially in this COVID-19 pandemic, when UPLB students were stuck in Los Baños. I think it’s high time that we truly institutionalize making councils parts of STPB-UPLB, as this is not only for the councils themselves but also for those whom they serve so as to reach more STPB-UPLB beneficiaries.”]

STPB-UPLB is part of UPLB Agapay response programs namely Situation, Finance, Store, and Actual responses. Agapay is a platform for the coordination mechanism of UPLB students and community in calamities and socio-economic distress that will hit Southern Tagalog. It advocates public service in hard times like calamities and distress.

STPB-UPLB will handle “Situation Response” to assess the students and community through having posters, assessments and forms to be disseminated to hasten the responses which are mainly online. (READ: UPLB stakeholders spearhead relief efforts to affected individuals)

Empowering freshmen

In empowering freshmen democratic rights, UPLB USC highlighted that the University Freshman Council (UFC) should be officially recognized by the Governing House Rules (GHR) and Rules on Internal Governance (RIG).

With that, SLC passed Resolution 2021-08 titled “A Resolution For The UPLB Student Legislative Chamber to Adopt The University Freshmen Bloc Assembly (FBA) Code”.

Para masunod talaga sIya [University Freshmen Council Code], to formalize dapat natin siyang mapag-usapan sa SLC, [To follow the University Freshmen Council Code, we need to discuss it in the SLC],” USC Students’ Rights and Welfare Head Gean Celestial expressed.

UPLB FBA serves as a unified representation of the new freshmen students of UPLB in various activities recognized and organized by the UPLB USC and CSCs.

“The point of this is to include it in GHR […] is to recognize the UFC to represent the part of the Freshmen, Transferees and Shiftees. This is the main advocacy of this resolution,” Celestial reiterated.

Freshman students of the university who are elected as the University Freshman Council (UFC) nominees are qualified nominees for the position of Chairperson of the Freshman Bloc Assembly. Only one representative per college shall be nominated for the position.

The formation of the FBA will give the rights to each college to have their own process and procedures on selecting officers and representatives in FBA.

On academic adjustments and new initiatives

Besides the resolutions, the present student councils also announced some of their upcoming initiatives to help the UPLB community.

CAFFSC discussed that they have initiated the “Agro-lobby Online,” formerly known as “CAFS Study Stream”. Through online instant messaging app Discord, the council launched a server containing different sub-groups dedicated to students under CAFS, where they can hold group and video calls, discussions, and establish relationships with each other despite the classes being held online. 

Meanwhile, CASSC revealed that one of its approved activities included Gabi Para sa Pesante, an online cultural performance gig headlined by cultural and peasant groups and their advocates.

Meanwhile, the College of Human Ecology Student Council (CHESC) focused on statements and graphic posters regarding events centered on environmental advocacies including Endangered Species Day, World Food Safety Day, World Ozone Day, and World Environment Day.

Lupa ay Buhay, a collaborative campaign initiated by UPLB CAFSSC, includes educational discussions, infographics, and photo campaigns to celebrate Peasant and Indigenous People’s Month and advocate for defending our ancestral lands, which is to be held from October 1 until October 31, 2021. 

Meanwhile, according to UPLB CEATSC, they sent a petition letter to CEAT Health Wellness, and Gender Program Committee to address issues of certain forms not being ‘gender-inclusive’. CEATSC also urged the Gender Committee to conduct gender discussions and SOGIE educational discussions for the faculty.

(RELATED STORIES: Beyond claiming queer spaces: Why pride remains a key for genuine emancipation)

Moreover, the College of Forestry and Natural Resources Student Council (CFNRSC) highlighted three main points: first, reading breaks greatly contributed to the well-being of the students mentally and physically; second, although it was beneficial, there were still underlying factors contributing to concerns about its implementations; and lastly, a week-long break is not enough as stated by the majority of the students.

In concluding the agenda, the USC emphasized its call for Ligtas na Balik Eskwela and academic ease through its End-the-Sem Campaign. The council also reiterated its call for an academic postponement with ten demands. These include an assessment of the whole A.Y. 2021-2022; the implementation of genuine academic ease and wellness breaks; and the provision of gadget and internet assistance among other demands.

(RELATED STORIES: #WelgaUPLB: Calls to end semester amplified with UPLB strike; End the sem petition reaches almost 2,400 signatories) [P]

Photo from STPB-UPLB / Facebook
Layout by Mich Monteron

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