YR 47 Issue 1 2011
 
 
Faces
Insufficient or mismanaged?
          Artlets societies, organizations
           experience funding problems
By RANDOLPH B.  LEONGSON AND CHRISTIAN CARL E. NARIZ
Several societies in the Faculty of Arts and Lett ers (Artlets) experienced shortage of funds during the first semester even if the Student Acti vity Fund (SAF) is made available by the administrati on. The SAF, which is
allocated by the University from the tuiti on paid by students upon enrolment, serves as the lifeblood that funds student acti viti es organized by societi es and organizati ons. In the University-wide scale, Artlets is among those with low SAF allocati on amounti ng to P175.00 per student. Here, the questi on looms: Is it a case of budget mismanagement or shortage?


ACCORDING to the SAF breakdown obtained by the
Flame from the UST Accounti ng Offi ce, the Artlets is one of those with low budget allocati on when it comes to the SAF—a far cry from the other faculti es and colleges namely, the Faculty of Civil Law (P660), Conservatory of Music (P637.20), Faculty of Medicine and Surgery (P550), College of Architecture (P320), and the College of Rehabilitati on Sciences (P300).

Other colleges that have lower SAFs than the Artlets are the College of Science (P150), College of Commerce and Business Administration (P110), and the Faculty of Engineering (P110).

The SAF, which is included in the “other fees” paid by students during enrolment, is used to fund the respecti ve organizati ons’ and societi es’ projects throughout the academic year. In the case of the Artlets, the amount of SAF each society gets depends on the number of students enrolled in a major.

Communicati on Arts Students Associati on (CASA), the society with the largest student population in Artlets, has the biggest share of the fund. It is followed by the Legal Management Society (LM Soc), The Political Science Forum (TPSF), Journalism Society (Journ Soc), Behavioral Science Society (Bes Soc), Asian Studies Society (Asian Soc), Economics Society (Eco Soc), Sociological Socety (SociSoc), Concilium Philosophae, and Literary Society (Lit Soc).

Meanwhile, newly-added courses English Language Studies and History are yet to create their own society, but Artlets Dean Michael Anthony Vasco said that if they decide to create a society for their major, the administrati on is willing to dole out the SAF. Likewise, Vasco said that the total amount of the SAF is not enti rely distributed to diff erent Artlets societies but will be fi rst shared to other college-based or
anganizations.

“The total aggregate amount will be divided into two—50 percent will go to the societies and the other 50 percent will go to the Artlets Student Council (ABSC) and interest organizati ons like the Artistang Artlets, Red Cross, Scarlet, and others,” Vasco said.

“Unfortunately, the SAF of the societies are always negative. (The problem is) students spend more than what they pay for,” he added.

Societi es’ struggles

The Journ Soc experienced funding problems brought about by the debt they inherited from the previous administrati on, President Shekinah Gapuz said in the society’s annual Mr. & Ms. Journalism pageant last September.

For other societi es, the budget allocation is enough to fund the activities of their respective organizations and they do not encounter SAF related problems.

“SAF requests usually take ti me, but it is bearable,” CASA President Rogelio Mariano, Jr. said. “
Wala naman (kaming problems regarding the SAF). Ngayon, nag-apply kami for reimbursement ng mga expenses for all of the acti viti es that we made use of the SAF,” Bes Soc President Patrick Remo added.

Majority of the societi es responded to the
Flame’s request for interview with the exception of the officers from Eco Soc, Socio Soc, Lit Soc, and TPSF who opted to remain silent on the issue.

Slow-ball processing?

Although internal problems contribute to the difficulti es experienced by the societies, a society officer who wished not to disclose his name said to the Flame that these do not discount the fact that most student leaders are in discontent due to the snail-paced procedures in processing the SAF.

He said that “almost all of us (officers from different societies) are encountering difficulties in requesting funds from the (Dean’s) Offi ce. This is apart from the delays in processing the papers.”

“The procedures enforced now are restraining us. They should be lenient with us because academic societies are pretty much at the mercy of their coordinators or advisers and their consti tuents,” he said. “If they are serious that student leaders must be transparent with fi nances, then institute a policy that hinders them to graduate without fixing liquidation reports.”

Some officers find ways to cope up with the problems they encounter like delays in the release of their cash advances in order not to cancel or postpone a scheduled activity.

“What we do is to shoulder the expenses first, then file a reimbursement claim after the event itself. Manageable
naman ang ganoong process,” said Mariano.

Bes Soc Treasurer Tricia Camille Huseña said they also implement the practi ce undertaken by the CASA.

Meanwhile, LM Soc Treasurer Rochelle Estrada said their society is aware of the “hassle in requesting money from the SAF,” leaving them no opti on but to fund their projects through joint activities.

“(We) always do partnerships with other organizations inside and outside the University,” she said, noting that this process makes their expenses lighter.

“Actually, we have not used our SAF yet. The organizati on fund fi nances our different activities,” she added.
Councillor for Treasury Romeo Alexis Devora of the Concilium Philosophae said their society managed to produce funds through their members, blaming the reduction of their SAF to the less number of enrollees.

The unnamed source’s concern stretched to the policy of the administration in ensuring transparency between the society officers and the student population. He further suggested that there is a need to “streamline the system.”

“To instil probity, make strict demands that money unaccounted will be returned. I dare say there are sti ll a number of student-leaders who are generous and willing enough to sacrifi ce and just opt for reimbursement later, but this should not be the conventi on,” he said. How about those who are unwilling? Thus there are cases that activities are delayed or cancelled.”

SAF increase

Vasco said that he proposed a P25 increase for the SAF last year but former ABSC President Vincent Cifra rejected the proposal.

“I declined the proposal simply because it means an increase in tuiti on. The students are already paying enough for the SAF and the organizati ons need to understand that they have the power to conduct fund raising activities,” Cifra said.

“The organizati ons need to learn how to be not fully dependent on the SAF. My decision to decline was actually meant to maximize the creativity and competence of the organizati ons in conducti ng different activities,” he added.

Furthermore, Cifra noted that increasing the SAF is just tantamount to “tolerating the negligence” of some student officials.

“Try to think of it, if the funds will be raised, the societi es will just increase their activities because of the increase in resources. The same thing will happen. Just maintain the present funding and tighten the control. Let the ABSC control the funds completely and oversee the societies’ budgeting,” he said.

Current ABSC President Julius Fernandez sees it the other way around. “The increase in SAF should be reasonable for us to agree on it. It would be enough if the SAF is not allott ed for the events of the ABSC and other Artlets organizations, but it is. We (the ABSC and the Dean) are going to discuss this again before the academic year ends,” Fernandez said.

However, Fernandez is suspended from his post as of press ti me due to an impeachment complaint filed by TPSF in line with the Insignia issue.


Meanwhile, Vasco noted that excess expenditures from a society’s SAF will be carried over to the next set of officers as debts, but if a society sti ll has an unused amount of money in their allott ed SAF, it will be transferred to the University budget as part of the University’s standard-operating procedure.

“(The) unused fund
ay wala na, babalik na sa general fund (of the University) iyon. Hindi siya carried over sa susunod na academic year dahil bagong budget naman ang gagamiti n the following year,” he clarified.

Administrati on explains

Fernandez voiced out the same sentiments with that of the aggrieved societies, but he countered as he said, “Inefficiency does not only come from the side of the Dean’s Offi ce’s inability to process papers ahora mismo. Ineffi ciency is a result of many factors.”

While the Cifra administrati on helped organizations that had problems with funds, this year’s ABSC are finding other ways to solve these problems.

“We are engaging in meeti ngs with the Dean’s Offi ce and I am also consulting the Central Board regarding the issue and their answer is for us to generate funds from other sources so we can lend money to these societies,” Fernandez said.

Vasco said that the cause of delay begins when his office starts to discuss with the society officers their project proposal whose budget will be thoroughly scrutinized. This process takes ti me before the Dean’s Offi ce can release the approved requisition to the organizations.

“Once approved, we will make a requisition to the Treasurer’s Office. It really depends on when the request for the fund is submitt ed to our office because sometimes students would have activities and would make the request three or four days before the event,” he explained. “They cannot get the fund that way because it takes seven working days to process a request at the level of the Treasurer’s Office. It is not seven days from the submission; it is seven working days upon requisiti on at the Treasurer’s Offi ce.”

Vasco added that the failure of the societi es to liquidate previous requests is someti mes the reason why it takes ti me to request for another.

“Two months is more than enough. In fact, the rule of the University is that two weeks after the acti vity, the amount should have been liquidated because they (the societies) have the receipts. But we give them one to two months, someti mes to no avail,” he said. “Before a society could request for an
other amount, they should have liquidated the previous request so that the liquidation report will not accumulate.

According to OSA, it requires its society and organizations to liquidate every semester,” he explained. “If you (societies) have a request for the second semester and we realized that you sti ll have funds that are not yet liquidated in the first semester, we will questi on why unti l now you have not yet liquidated your funds.” Vasco reminded student leaders to handle their budget more effectively in order to have fewer problems in their requisitions.

“To observe fi scal health, you really have to budget and rati onalize your budget. It does not mean if you have a budget, you will throw your money into the river,” he said. “You have to be very efficient in the utilizati on of fund because it would be unfair to other noble projects. So the rule of thumb is equanimity in the distributi on of funds.”
F
Year 47 |  Issue 3 |  2011
Year 47 |  Issue 4 |  2012