Emerging orgs seek venue reservation, recruitment period reforms

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ON MARCH 24, emerging organizations sent a statement of requests to the Office of Student Activities (OSA) regarding their apprehensions on the current five-day period for venue reservation and their separate recruitment period from the Council of Organizations of the Ateneo (COA) Recruitment Week (RecWeek).

Emerging organizations were formerly called “unaccredited organizations.”

The 20 signatories of the statement called for the “substantial availability of facilities to emerging organizations, particularly the reservation of venues.” They explained that the five-day period has constantly led them to reschedule or cancel their events.

“Since the minimum amount of time required for anybody to reserve a venue is two days before, we are only left with three days for organizers to work on reservation, and considering the processing time entailed, it is extremely difficult for emerging organizations to secure venues,” the statement read.

Additionally, the emerging organizations proposed the “execution of [their] member recruitment period [in] the same week as COA RecWeek.” They said that the delay in the recruitment period this year led to the decline in membership and rescheduling of calendars for emerging organizations.

Delayed response

In the statement, emerging organizations requested OSA to reply by March 31. However, OSA was only able to formally respond on May 8.

Cuisina President Cess Yu, one of the signatories of the statement, emphasized that the lack of accreditation should not be a reason for emerging organizations to have difficulties in pushing for their advocacies.

“Members of independent organizations have just as much passion and potential as those of accredited organizations. We will begin to strive for systems that do not discriminate organizations,” she said.

Moreover, Yu expressed her disappointment towards the Breakfast with Emerging Organizations that OSA organized on April 11. She said that the event was “merely an introduction to OSA” when she and other emerging organization presidents were expecting a discussion on the issues they have raised in the statement.

OSA response

Through a letter addressed to emerging organization presidents on May 8, OSA Director Ralph Jacinto Quiblat apologized for the late response which he attributed to “business matters” that the office had to attend to and “some personal emergency matters.”

Moreover, he welcomed the initiative of emerging organizations in raising their concerns and explained that OSA Coordinator for Emerging, Independent, and Non-COA Organizations Dan Ephraim Casiño has already been conducting individual consultations with organization leaders.

As for the first request on the extension of venue reservation, Quiblat explained that Sec. 6.4.a.ii of the Guidelines for Student Activities states that “applying organizations—student groups with applying status may reserve the rooms not more than 15 days before the proposed date of use,” while Sec. 6.4.a.iii states that “… LS-recognized unaccredited student groups… may reserve the rooms not more than five days before the proposed date of use.”

Given that OSA is currently reviewing the Performance Management System (PMS), one of the changes being considered is no longer classifying unaccredited organizations as applying or non-applying. Thus, emerging organizations will be accorded 15 days instead of just five.

In terms of the recruitment period, Quiblat said that he proposed the idea of a “Student Activities Fair” to COA President Bea Ruiz. Both COA and non-COA organizations will be able to present themselves to the student body in this event.

“We are hoping for a favorable response as this will promote unity and community among COA and non-COA organizations. Otherwise, we can create a space and opportunity for you to present your organizations and recruit for members parallel or simultaneous to the COA [RecWeek] only at a different venue,” he said.

“We hope that these changes will be finalized during the intersession so we may be able to implement them by first semester of school year 2017 to 2018,” he added.

OSA, emerging organizations, and the Sanggunian held a round table discussion on these matters on May 12.

Partners in formation

In an interview with The GUIDON on April 25, Quiblat said that OSA was already in the process of addressing the concerns of emerging organizations when they received the statement.

He added that the current policies on venue reservation and recruitment period for emerging organizations were placed 10 years ago, and so, OSA is doing its best to amend them in line with the PMS review.

“OSA is really positioning itself in partnering with the students. We are primarily a formative office, we are in the formation cluster. Our promise is that we would journey with the students and that would mean helping them in whatever way we can,” he said.

Sanggunian’s support

Sanggunian President Ia Marañon acknowledged OSA’s “change in rhetoric” to become companions. She added that as an office for formation, the more authentic way to accomplish this goal is to at least let the students set the standards for themselves.

“That’s why we’re setting the direction of an empowered student [body]. A student-led campus politics is what I envision for these emerging organizations so there’s a need to constantly consult and continue the dialogue with them,” she said.

“As the Sanggunian, we took the oath and we took the promise na we will be there for their concerns and we will fight or we will at least demand for the changes in so far as they demand it with us as well,” she added.

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