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Assembly affirms university collection policy

By Genno Gabriel Rabaya | February 15, 2024

The Silliman University Student Government (SUSG) Student Assembly asserted compliance with the 2016 memorandum on the collection and solicitation of fees and contributions by the student body last Feb. 1. 

Issued on June 14, 2016, the policy stated that the “payment of student council fees, membership fees, fines, etc., cannot be a condition for enrolment and in no case shall non-payment of these fees be made a basis for non-admission, non-promotion, or non-issuance of clearance to a student. ”

“Such issues of enrollment had reached a point wherein departmental professors were prohibiting students from enrolling into the next semester because the students were unable to pay the aforementioned fees,” said Rep. Frances Gabrielle Aldaba, SUSG Student Assembly Speaker of the House.

She also said that the memorandum informed the student body of their rights, and it is the student councils’ duty to “respect” their choices. 

“If such issues persist and students still encounter issues of ‘non-issuance of clearance, non-promotion, and non-admission’ because of non-payment of such fees, the representatives, upon receiving and verifying the complaints, have already been instructed to raise such concerns to the Vice President of Finance and Operations (VPFO),” Rep. Aldaba said.

However, the SUSG Student Assembly clarified that student organizations, college, and high school councils can still collect council and membership fees but cannot make such collections prerequisites for clearance, admission, and promotion.

“According to the memorandum issued by the former VPFA (Vice President of Finance and Administration), only University personnel are prohibited from ‘receiving payments for fees, and solicited monies and gifts,” they said. 

Rep. Aldaba said that the Student Assembly supports the provisions in the memorandum and recognizes the “utmost importance” of the student’s financial security and academic freedom.

“The students should not be afraid of not paying their council [or] membership fees in fear that they will be prohibited from enrolling [or] graduating. They are within their rights,” she added.

Student councils’ concerns

In the 10th regular session, a letter sent to the SUSG Student Assembly by the League of Governors (LOG) through Timothy Libres, SUSG Vice President, expressed the group’s “apprehension regarding the memorandum” to the Student Assembly.

One of the sections in the letter stated, “We’d like some assurance and clarification as to where the Assembly stands—if you plan to strengthen the memo or petition for it to be revised, considering 2016 and 2024 are two different times.”

Rep. Aldaba said that concerns raised were also due to the “ill-timing” of the memorandum, indicating that it “adds to the already difficult task of collecting for intramurals.”

Furthermore, the letter also asked if the Student Assembly could “aid the councils in the collection process.”

Rep. Aldaba said the Student Assembly responded to the concerns by letter through VP Libres.

She also said that student councils should shift their focus “towards fostering a deeper understanding among student bodies regarding the benefits and the impact of the fees.”

To Rep. Aldaba, councils should not rely on mandates, but explore strategies to “incentivize students to willingly contribute to their respective councils.”
The Weekly Sillimanian (tWS) has reached out to the office of the VPFO, but has yet to receive complete details about the Business and Finance Office’s status with the memorandum. This is a developing story.

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