PALMA HALL, DILIMAN. – Incumbent College of Social Sciences and Philosophy Student Council Chairperson Aubrey Sheldian Lagbas (B) on Monday posted on her personal Facebook wall a statement as a reaction to statements made by Coun. Shaina Santos (B) alluding to politicizing within the Student Council.
The Facebook post includes within it a link to a Google Drive folder marked “CSSPSC AY 2015-2016 Transparency” containing folders with financial statements, minutes of GA meetings, attendance, statements, publications, and other downloadables. A student, Renz Reyes, from the Department of Political Science, commented on Chair Lagbas’ post 10:23 pm yesterday, asking where the minutes for the second semester could be accessed.
Upon examination of the Drive sub-folder marked Minutes of the Meeting and its other sub-folders, it is apparent that the narrative minutes available only date back to November. Those for the months from December to April were not initially present in the Drive folder. However, those from February and March were added earlier today.
In the paragraph preceding the link to the Drive folder, Chair Lagbas stated that “Most of the members were very busy and this time-consuming task was most of the time left in the hands of Aaron viernes and one or two of his members who were also department representatives.”
SINAG, through PASABOG: The CSSP Elections Debate held on Friday, 15 April 2016, asked incumbent Student Council members present as to why Coun. Aaron Viernes (B) in his capacity as Secretary-General was not suspended for dereliction of duty whilst Coun. Donn Bernal (S) was placed on preventive suspension previously. Coun. Clarisse Peralta (B) who was present as sole candidate for CSSPSC Chairperson, replied that Coun. Viernes was not suspended because no one filed a complaint against him.
Chair Lagbas’ full post is quoted below:
“Our council is not perfect. This year we, as a whole, had one simple goal and that is to deliver a balanced set of services, campaigns, and projects to the students. As much as we try to successfully carry out all our planned events and projects to the best of our capability, some of these don’t always turn out as we intend them to. Reasons for this range from personal to contextual conflicts. There have been a lot of instances that logistical and financial circumstances had us struggling through our events. On another note, people have also had their share of personal conflicts and misunderstandings. However, all these are normal considering the pressure we experience coupled with our differences in principles, beliefs, work styles, and personalities.
Last Friday, I wanted to keep silent on the issue raised by one of our incumbent councilors since it was supposedly directed to students running for council positions, but demoralizing posts and statements affecting the council and so many other people have led me at this point to where I have to say my piece as member and as Chairperson of the CSSP Student Council.
What bothers and disheartens me is how personal conflicts between members have been intensified to the point of affecting the integrity of our council as a whole. I’m disappointed and deeply saddened by the fact that this has been publicly manifested when we could’ve settled it as a council diplomatically in its proper context and venue. Even outside the formal meetings of the GA, I have made it a point to make the members feel that they can approach me with anything, and I also ask them how they are every once in a while.
First point: regarding the assignment of people to their respective committees.
There is a process for this, and the entire council is involved. In advance, the council members are asked to send in their intent to head a committee and whoever applies for committee headship present to the body on a scheduled date and then the whole council deliberates after they have presented. Once the committee heads have been finalized, they are convened to deliberate committee assignments for the rest of the council members. In the deliberations, we primarily consider their committee preferences and, most importantly, their other automatic functions in the council (This is primarily applicable for department representatives who are also busy with their respective departments).
Being assigned to a committee does not limit the work of that council member to that committee alone as each committee is linked to the other in a dynamic function that necessitates cooperation amongst all. Furthermore, if a council member wanted to change committee memberships, it may be opened to the body. If they are not fulfilled and feel like they’re not functioning in their committee then the GA is very open to discussing this.
Second point, which is linked to the first one, is with regard to dis-empowering people. As the chairperson of the council, I am going to say that THIS IS NOT TRUE. Everyone was given his or her own share of responsibilities in the council and was given a chance to take part and lead. As chairperson and member of the council, I see to it that if a council member is willing and capable, he or she should be and had always been given the chance. On another note, no matter what task is assigned, it is crucial to the success of every event, project, or campaign of the council. I think everyone would agree that no task is menial when it comes to student council work and every council member has to take on work loads of all shapes and sizes, whether they particularly like it or not. At the end of the day, EACH AND EVERY CONTRIBUTION COUNTS, and I NEVER looked at any particular type of work as less meaningful than others. Ultimately, what we work towards is not self-gratification or glorification but quality service to the students.
In the secretariat committee, for example, everyone regardless of political affiliation was assigned tasks, and I don’t think this can be denied. There are instances, however, that some committee members are assigned tasks their workloads and schedules could accommodate if they had other important concerns especially since most committee members are already department representatives. In behalf of the committee, I feel that it is important to mention that this is also one reason why the committee had a difficult time releasing our regular monthly GA narratives. Most of the members were very busy and this time-consuming task was most of the time left in the hands of Aaron viernes and one or two of his members who were also department representatives. A complete copy of our GA minutes however, have already been long uploaded in our website and can be accessed through this link:tinyurl.com/CSSPSCTransparency1516. The minutes for the committee deliberations could also be found here.
Also, NO ONE was ever barred from speaking out in the council, and this is precisely one reason why most of our GAs last very long. As the presider, I make sure that everyone gets to say what they have to say, and I even make an effort to pry at them if I feel that they want to say more. Furthermore, in the many events of the council, EVERYONE CONTRIBUTED. As members, assistant committee heads, and committee heads, I don’t see how anyone would feel that some of us have not been accorded tasks. In fact, there have been moments where we were undermanned in the council.
Third and last point, I AM PROUD OF MY COUNCIL AND EVERYONE IN IT, especially after all we’ve gone through this year. It’s been incredibly hard. At this point I feel that we have been a council publicly recognized for the issues that have spurred out of this and not for our different campaigns, services and projects. This is immensely frustrating considering all our efforts and all that we’ve gone through.
EVERYONE in the council has worked so hard and put in his or her fair share of efforts in all that we’ve been doing. This issue reducing all that we’ve worked for the entire year, and IT SHOULD NOT. This is unfair to the council members, the CSSP VolCorps and everyone else who has actively participated and contributed to the council initiatives. Beyond this issue, I just want us to work well together and see through our remaining time as a council. We still have so much more to do and this issue should not divide us and prevent us from giving our last push as council members; CSSP definitely deserves nothing less from us.”
UPDATE: As of 11 AM today, the minutes for the months of February (11:00-11:01) and March (11:01-11:02) have been uploaded to the linked drive folder.
To this article, Chair Lagbas commented, “First of all, there have been some difficulty uploading some of the minutes real time but the minutes have long been readily available to the public since these are all uploaded in our transparenCSSP folder. As for our second semester minutes, they can also be accessed there na. This link has been recently publicized in the college GA (KAPPulungan+) and if anyone asks where they can access the minutes, we tell them to access these through the folder.” – AEM de Leon