Saturday, May 25, 2024

State of the Student Body Address S.Y. 2022 – 2023

SUSG President John Christian Entrata

“The SUSG is here to give you a memorable comeback to the campus by the sea.” This was the promise Kyla and I made to the student body before we started the school year and these are also the exact same words that Kyla and I tried to live by in our everyday duties as the SUSG Standard Bearers.

Distinguished guests, executive committee chairpersons, honorable Student Assembly, SUSG judiciary, SUSG COMELEC, the Weekly Sillimanian, student organizations, our ever-dynamic League of Governors, fellow Sillimanians, a pleasant morning.

Today will be a testament to the resilience of the SUSG and the entire Silliman studentry. After two long years of operating online, the SUSG was finally able to serve the student body in a face-to-face setting once again. It is with a humble heart that I admit that it was not an easy ride – having to figure out the entire SUSG operations after practically growing up online as a student leader. But every day, seeing how there are so much gaps that have to be filled, the SUSG has been continuously motivated to serve the Silliman studentry to the best of our capabilities.

Sillimanyanihan is a combination of Silliman and bayanihan – a Filipino word which means coming together to work towards a common goal – this was the driving force behind the SUSG’s operations last semester. With this, we want to highlight that the SUSG isn’t just Kyla and I alone. The SUSG is an entire team – a family – working hand in hand to serve the Silliman studentry. Today, we aim to give credit where credit is due and so I will be trying my best to summarize what our 22 executive committees and over 80 chairpersons have accomplished despite the trials and tribulations that the current unprecedented times bring.

Circling back to our goal of giving a memorable comeback for the Sillimanians, we opened the school year with a bang with different activities to make the campus as lively as possible. This was a preface to the dynamic SUSG we aim to become.

Even before the school year started, our Secretariat Committee has already launched one of our platforms – the Board and Accommodation directory – an initiative to help Sillimanians find a place to stay in as we all go back to Dumaguete City. The SUSG Students’ Rights and Welfare Committee also launched a new mechanism to hear the concerns of the student body – Silliman Stance – a platform where we gather the insights of the student body regarding various issues in the campus. As one of its tangible results, Silliman Stance 02: a survey on bringing back the Ninings helped expedite the process of bringing back the kiosks in the campus as the results were lobbied to the Vice President for Development. Today, the Ninings are officially back for the Sillimanians.

After countless meetings, adjustments, and negotiations with the university administration, we were also able to bring back Hibalag on the physical scene. Hibalag 2022 was spearheaded by the SUSG Committee on Student Organizations who worked day and night to make certain that we can bring back one of the most-awaited events in the university in the best way possible. 

This wouldn’t have been possible without the active participation of the different student organizations who spearheaded the events and gave their A-games during the booth-building. The SUSG Cheering Committee also spearheaded Glowback: the All-University Acquaintance Party and the Marketing Committee capped Hibalag with Sillimusika: A benefit concert. Additionally, the SUSG Health Committee and SUSG HERT served as health marshals during the entire duration of Hibalag, making certain that health protocols are observed as much as possible.

The Miss Silliman Committee also fought hard to bring back the longest-running school-based search in Asia. The 76th Miss Silliman brought together nine Silliman women fighting for different causes and advocacies. This school year, Genesis 2022 was merged with Hibalag. Genesis aimed to re-introduce the SUSG and its different executive committees to the student body with the aim to provide a way for the students to be a part of the SUSG. Sillimanyanihan upholds the value of collective effort – not just by the elected and appointed officials, but with the entire student body whose potential we continuously believed in.

The SUSG Secretariat Committee materialized one of our platforms – the SUSG Assistance Desk – a running initiative with the aim to provide the student body a tangible space they can go to for different concerns and inquiries.

Set Sail 2022: Navigating the Campus by the Sea was also a major event for the semester. In collaboration with the League of Governors and the SUSG student assembly, the SUSG Marketing Committee spearheaded the event with the aim of formally welcoming the freshies to Silliman University, introducing them to the different programs, services, and opportunities they can explore. Additionally, the SUSG Marketing Committee launched the SUSG Career Opportunities Network – a platform centralizing different career opportunities for the student body.

During the first semester, the SUSG tried its best to stand true to its mission to be the voice of the student body, responding to different calls to action and issues involving the Sillimanians. On top of their various awareness campaigns, The SUSG Advocacy Committee mobilized efforts to address the prevalent sexual harassment cases happening around the perimeters of the university. With the loud calls for assistance from the freshies, the Special Projects Committee also mobilized the SUSG Freshie Buddy Network which is set to be fully operational this semester. This is a platform which we envision to be a lasting program of the SUSG in providing necessary support and assistance for the freshman students as they enter Silliman University. 

SUSG HERT mobilized two platforms – the COVID-19 hotline, which was able to assist a number of students who were infected with COVID-19 during the semester. The Calamity Assistance Fund was also maximized last semester with HERT’s operations during the onslaught of Typhoon Paeng and heavy rains in Misamis Occidental. HERT, in collaboration with the SUSG Social Services Committee, was able to provide relief assistance to our fellow Sillimanians in these areas.

The SUSG Social Services Committee upheld one of the 5Cs of Silliman University – community, making certain that the SUSG also goes beyond the portals of the university through its various community outreach programs. The Educational Services Committee sustained the SUSG Scholarship, providing financial aid to 15 SUSG Scholars. The committee also mobilized efforts to provide services to the student body during the midterms and finals week.

The SUSG Research Committee launched the SUSG Respondent Assistance – an operating initiative to help Sillimanian student researchers look for respondents for their research endeavors.

Filling in the needs for more Church Programs in the High School Body, the SUSG High School Affairs Committee hosted several Fellowship Services with the SU Church and a Christmas outreach – Putos sa Kalipay. On top of the sustained bloodline hotline, The SUSG Health Committee also hosted a mental health forum tackling social anxieties in the transition period and collaborated with SU PEP for a Christmas outreach promoting COVID-19 awareness.

The SUSG also did not just initiate new projects and events, it also aimed to support the programs the university has for the student body. The SUSG Dorm-life Committee hosted several programs such as Dormers’ Night and Take Cover to improve the experience of the dormers. The Spiritual Life Committee worked closely with the SU Church to mold the spirit, inspire the minds, and renew the faith of every Sillimanian.

The SUSG also catered to the different interests of the student body. As such, The Socio-Cultural committee hosted a poetry night to get to know more about what makes each and every culture special through the art of poetry.

Last but definitely not the least, the SUSG Environment Committee strived and acted for a Silliman University that’s cleaner, healthier, greener, and most especially paradisiac. On top of several initiatives addressing different environmental concerns, some of the Committee’s highlights include the relaunch of Resikad and hosting the Dumaguete Young Environmental Leaders’ Summit. More importantly, last semester, the university declared a Climate Emergency. This was made possible through the efforts of the committee who drafted a climate emergency declaration and initiated dialogues with the University President. This isn’t just a win for the committee, the SUSG, and the university. This is a win for the planet.

With this, I stand before you today appealing for us to do our parts. The university has environmental systems in place but sometimes, we miss to adhere to them and do the bare minimum such as segregating and properly disposing our wastes and above all, minimizing them. The SUSG will also continue to strive and do better to conduct our programs and initiatives with a zero-waste policy.

Aside from the Executive Body, the other branches of the SUSG has also been working tirelessly to serve the Silliman studentry. The SUSG Judiciary has been appointed since the last semester but upon completion of their requirements, their appointment has been confirmed this semester. Still headed by Hon. Prime Justice Earl Guenn Padayao, the new roster of Justices are here to uphold the power of law in the SUSG.

Our Legislative Branch – the 32nd SUSG Student Assembly – headed by Speaker of the House Enrica Dinopol passed nine resolutions addressing various issues of the student body and these resolutions are mobilized by the SUSG Resolutions Executive Committee. The student assembly, composed of 57 student representatives, continues to fight for a more inclusive and student-centered Silliman by lobbying policies and reforms to the university administration and implementing improvements in the SUSG’s overall operations.

While I made a very lengthy summary of the SUSG’s accomplishments last semester, we also acknowledge that there’s so much more we could have done and there were also things we could have done better. With this, we vow to continue striving to become a receptive student government, listening to your concerns down from the grassroots. The SUSG is here to encourage the student body to continue fighting for our rights, with the assurance the SUSG will be fighting alongside you. Let us continue challenging systems, even if it means calling out the same people leading the student body – us. Our administration is definitely not perfect, we have so much room for improvement. That is why we are grateful to still have another semester to serve you. One thing is for certain though, in this administration, we bring you an SUSG that you can call yours. To end, allow me to take this opportunity to thank the very people who made everything possible for the SUSG last semester – our executive committee chairpersons, our giants along with the other branches of the SUSG. No amount of words could express how thankful Kyla and I are to have you in our Sillimanyanihan family. Thank you so much for making the last semester so much more bearable. We would also like to thank our advisers, Sir Abe and Ma’am Edna for always being there with us and for keeping us on track. To the league of governors, thank you so much for your support to the different programs of the SUSG. Most importantly, to our fellow Sillimanians, thank you for giving us the opportunity to serve you. I stand here before you today to reassure you that this semester, your voices will not just be listened to, they will be sought out. 

Fellow SUSG Officials, our dearest constituents, Sillimanyanihan: let’s get to work!

A pleasant morning once again.

SUSG Vice-President Kyla Bue

“Yours is the listening administration.” These were the words Dr. Edna Calingacion, our Dean of Students, used to describe our administration, during Christian and I’s evaluation with her and Sir Abe, our SOAD Head and SUSG Adviser.

When Christian and I started to lead the SUSG Executive Branch, we envisioned it to be exactly just that. The one that listens and hears each and every concern down to the grassroots. The whole firts semester, we have been trying to hear you, Sillimanians. Making certain that we aid you in any way possible.

However, if there is something that we took away from the 1st semester, it is that listening is not enough, and listening to you, Sillimanians, is definitely not easy. It was ambitious of us to expect that we are capable of hearing all micro concerns from almost 56 different departments belonging to 19 different colleges. With this, we did countless evaluations, looked for loopholes, thought of all possible ways, and identified possible barriers hindering the SUSG to discern your concerns.

The result of these actions led us to different initiatives that hopefully, will further help to connect us and will give justice to Dr. Calingacion’s, again, “the listening administration.” But before we journey through our plans for the next semester, allow me to thank you, Sillimanians, for supporting the student government during the first semester. On behalf of the whole SUSG, we would not be here today, Christian would not be able to give you a rundown of all successful first-semester events if it weren’t for each and every Sillimanian who gave us the opportunity to serve.

As we traverse through the second semester, we will make certain that all learnings, experiences, and constructive feedback from the first semester will be with us. With this, trust that all plans are made in accordance with all furtherance from the last semester.

We are seven days into the semester already and seven days is enough to get all the planning started. Last January 28, the SUSG Environmental Committee and the rest of the SUSG members expressed their stand through a protest at Pantawan Boulevard, in which we are against the operation of the pyrolysis-gasification technology which is an incinerator that is used to manage the city’s waste. Aside from that, all 22 executive committees are already in the process of executing their plans for the second semester.

First, is the SUSG Health Committee crafting a directory of all possible blood donors in and outside of the university. This is for us to easier streamline blood requests from their existing program, the Bloodline hotline.

Next is the Students’ Rights and Welfare Committee or STRAW, drafting a more comprehensive method of availing the Gender Fund. One of SUSG’s financial assistance for all Sillimanians who wish to pursue their gender-based initiatives. Another project under STRAW is the Grievance Representatives Guild which is one of Christian and I’s platforms. The Guild is composed of representatives who hold the smallest position in their respective colleges. This will be formed in order for the Sillimanians to have people who are more accessible to them in terms of consultation and reporting of concerns. The Guild will also be under Sir Abe Cadelina who is also the Grievance Officer of the university. As of now, STRAW is finalizing the Guild’s Guidelines and Policies with the Dean of Students and they will be having a series of training this month.

We also have the SUSG Advocacy Committee, preparing for the Advocacy Summit, and the Sillimanian Advocacy Support, one of Christian and I’s platforms dedicated to help students to champion their advocacies. This will aid them not only with the basics of project planning but also with the financial aspect of their initiatives. After aiding them through the start-up of their projects, the SUSG Advocacy Committee will continue to monitor their process to make certain that it will be a successful and impactful initiative.

This second semester, most of the students will be working on their respective thesis and research papers. With this, through the SUSG Educational Services Committee, we will soon be launching the Thesis Grant Fund to provide financial support to students in pursuing their academic papers. The SUSG Educational Services Committee will also be bringing back Tudlo, a tutoring services led by the SUSG Scholars and may be availed by the Sillimanians. 

Last August, we had a successful search for the 76th Miss Silliman organized by the SUSG Miss Silliman Committee. This semester, the crowned queens together with the committee are working to pursue their different advocacies that they fought and continue to keep fighting for. 

We also have the SUSG Environment Committee who are continuously striving to create and suggest sustainable solutions that will help the University continue its Zero Waste journey. This semester, they will be having the Silliman Climate Summit. An event that is packed with insights and learning about how to properly be stewards of the environment.

Aside from all the ongoing plans of the different committees, the SUSG is also committed to continue its midterm and finals services, specifically providing free coffee, snacks and opening study areas for longer hours for the students. 

While we have committees that are event-based, we also would like to acknowledge the committees that are more focused with the administrative work of SUSG. Starting with the Informedia Committee, who are behind all the amazing publication materials the Student Government releases. We also have the SUSG Marketing Committee, responsible for handling partnerships and sponsors for all the events you get to attend.

Last but not least, we have the SUSG Financial Committee. The committee is assigned with handling all matters related to finance, this is one of the core committees as all events pass through them. They make certain that your money will be well spent and well audited. In relation to the SUSG Finance Committee, we’d like to present to you a transparency report of SUSG’s Financial State. For everyone’s information, each Sillimanian is paying a Student Government Fee of ₱62.40.

Last semester, we started with a budget of ₱1,301,429.44 in which we are left with ₱292,035.35. For this semester’s SUSG Fund, we have an estimated collection of ₱600,429.44.

Adding the SG Fund that was left last semester and the estimated amount for this semester, we have a total of ₱892,464.79 of SG Fund for this semester. However, all these numbers are still arbitrary since the Financial Committee is still in the process of final auditing.  Rest assured that as soon these will be finalized, a transparency report will be publicized and will be sent to your respective college Governors.

Now that we have an overview of all the agenda of the different SUSG Committees for this semester moving forward, the SUSG is also continuously convening the League of Governors which is spearheaded by yours truly. Last January 27, 2023, the governors were invited to a training session led by the OSS, where they were able to lobby concerns, realign, and discuss plans for the semester. In this training session, we were also graced with the presence of the Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dr. Earl Jude Cleope. Furthermore, this year’s LOG will be drafting its own charter for the succeeding LOG. Rest assured that I, with your governors, will continue to bridge the concerns of the students to the SUSG and Silliman administration.

As we are nearing the end of the school year, soon it will be time for us to elect new student leaders. With this, Christian and I have already completed the slate for this year’s COMELEC Commissioners and their Chairperson. Our 6 Honorable Commissioners, headed by their Honorable Chairperson Eunice Honoridez, are in the process of preparing all the things needed to make certain that we have safe and fair elections.

Sillimanians, we are only seven days into the semester. Yet, through these seven days, we were already able to experience such big changes. One of which is the relocation of our beloved SU Main Library to the SU Gym. Same as everyone, we were also taken aback by this news. Aside from this, we also received changes with intramurals schedule and the school calendar as a whole. SUSG had its fair share of victories, however, we were also able to experience downfalls. One of which is the very recent Cheerdance competition which went through an intense debate whether it shall be approved or not. It was when the student body exhausted all possible ways yet still failed to make it happen. Now, all we can do is hope for the best and make do with what we have.

With this, Christian and I made certain to initiate dialogues with the body concerned with the different changes in the university and tried to stay up to date to be able to share relevant and timely information to the students. Now that we are faced with this situation, we are hoping that the university will make further steps to initiate student consultations before deciding on big changes, especially on matters that affect us the most. 

Sillimanians, we mentioned before that we will not only be your voice, instead, we will give you your own microphones and allow you to speak for your own struggles. We will still take that path. That is why we urge you to not hesitate to reach out to us should you have any concerns.

As we serve you for one last semester, allow us to be more accessible and connected with you. We envision a semester that will not only cater to your concerns but will also be with you in lobbying them.

This time, your student government will not just listen, instead, we will clear the path so we can listen more intently. We will not just wait for your concerns to reach us, but instead, we will construct tunnels to streamline your concerns. Dahil lagi’t lagi, kamo ang importante. 

As Princess Tiata said, “We are almost there.” Sillimanians, together, let’s finish the semester strong. With that, let’s get to work.

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