All systems go for sectoral representation in Sanggu

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THE SANGGUNIAN will soon have legislative representatives of various student groups to recognize and promote their respective advocacies.

The student groups are formally called sectors, which Article XIV, Section 1 of the 2017 Electoral Code defines as “an organized group of undergraduate students of the Loyola Schools who share a specific primary characteristic and who aim to represent their underrepresented interests by advocating for their common ideologies, principles and causes.”

Sectoral representation in the Sanggunian was introduced in the 2016 Constitution.

“The point of a sector is having the students self-determine who they are,” said Sanggunian President Ia Marañon. “It’s also a matter of looking at interests of minority.”

“The goal kasi of politics is to ensure that your interests are represented and acknowledged by the governing institution, and the Sanggunian wants to enable the students to capacitate themselves,” she added.

Each sector will be allowed one representative in the Central Assembly, along with the school representatives, Ateneo Resident Students Association Representative, and the Council of Organizations of the Ateneo Representative.

The Central Assembly is the highest legislative body of the Sanggunian.

Marañon said that the sectoral representatives would essentially be “senators of the university.”

The system is an “effective way to keep concerns and reforms structured,” according to Office of Student Activities (OSA) Director Ralph Jacinto Quiblat.

He added, “I encourage the students to have a voice, speak up, and to go to proper channels that allow them to have opportunities for change.”

Sectoral representation, which was introduced by the 2016 Undergraduate Constitution of the Loyola Schools (LS), had been in pending status until August 27, when the Student Judicial Court released the guidelines for applying sectors.

Difficulties and delay

Though sectoral representation was officially mandated in 2016, the Ateneo Commission on Elections (COMELEC) had challenges regarding its deliberation.

“Last year, from what I learned, the COMELEC [had] already submitted a draft in the electoral code,” said COMELEC Chair Martin Moreno. “But due to problems on what qualifies as a sector, and how to renew them if there’s a renewal process…We had trouble with that.”

Additionally, the Sanggunian Transition Government (TransGov), which operated beginning last school year’s intersession semester until September 2016, helped prepare the next elected officials for the systems of the then new 2016 Constitution. This further delayed the already lengthy procedure of deliberation for sectors.

‘Organize, organize, organize’

According to Union of Students for the Advancement of Democracy (USAD) Premier Billie Blanco, the difficulties do not end with the delay of the deliberation.

“The challenge now is to work on organizing these sectors and making sure na they’re able to find their basic unities sa sector,” she said. “The idea for it is that for [sectors] to be organically formed.”

Moreno said that cooperation between COMELEC and sectors is “required,” as COMELEC will monitor the applications.

The referendum requires applying sectors to secure signatures from 10% of the undergraduate student population, affirming that the student body recognizes the sectors.

In support of this, Marañon assured that the Sanggunian is working on modules and organizing a summit. “Our goal is at the end of the [first] semester, recognized at naka-referendum na sila (Our goal is at the end of the [first] semester, [the sectors] will be recognized and have a referendum),” she said.

As OSA Director, Quiblat said he would “love for the students to really be organized.”

“Rant less, organize more,” he advised. “Organize, organize, organize. The best way to go about effective change is to go through proper channels.”

High hopes

Railey Montalan, from applying sector League of Independent Organizations (LIONS), shared that his community “faced prejudice” regarding their lack of accreditation.

Because of this, Montalan is intent on seeking equality by filing policies on monetary assistance, as well as reformations to stop discrimination against LIONS organizations.

He also said that they are not the only ones facing problems in the LS community. “We recognize that all these sectors have faced struggles similar to ours, being disproportionately disadvantaged by the system.”

Still, Montalan believes that the system will lead “towards equality for students who have been left in the dark for so long.”

Meanwhile, Josie Go, who expressed plans to establish an LGBT sector with other members of the Ateneo Dollhouse, also mentioned challenges in promoting her advocacies before the system was presented.

Her only platform had only been on social media, which she claimed was “not enough.”

“It was challenging to promote them because not a lot of people could see,” she said.

However, Go hopes having a sector will help the student body be more aware of issues in the LGBT community. “If the LGBT sector is given a voice in the school setting, students will be more aware of our issues,” she said.

Go added that the LGBT sector is looking forward to movements regarding gender sensitivity. “This will help the LS community become more open and respectful,” she said.

Blanco also maintained that she, along with USAD, is actively supporting the new system.

“It’s a welcome development,” she said. “If it doesn’t push through, it’s tantamount to the denial of rights. The more we wait, the more students are left out.”

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