FOR BEING nowhere during that one week in November dedicated to promoting students’ rights, leaders of student organizations got a mouthful from no less than the “ARSA” or Assistant to the Rector for Student Affairs herself, Cristina Castro-Cabral.

At the twice-a-year dialogue called the “ARSA’s Hour,” Cabral used a 90-minute speech to take student leaders to task for the poor turnout during the much-hyped Student’s Rights and Welfare Week or STRAW, where only eight out of more than 170 accredited University-wide and college-based student organizations were represented.

Cabral also warned student organizations who have been conducting activities without approval, and even threatened to evict those who have not been taking care of their erstwhile spanking-new offices at the Tan Yan Kee Student Center.

“You should do your share, if you want me to do mine,” Cabral said during the ARSA’s Hour last December 4. “Just how can the (Office for) Student Affairs be so sure that the student organizations are really student-oriented when in fact only a few attended what was supposed to be an official University-wide student activity?”

Cabral added: “If we cannot shape up, we better shake out.”

Organized by the Central Student Council, the STRAW featured exhibits at the Plaza Mayor and covered walkways. At the opening day, a parade went around the University to try to draw everybody’s attention.

Maria Luisa Villena, president of Student Organizations Coordinating Council, said many student organizations replied to a memo from the Student Affairs office days before the activity.

“The problem is, identifying the students according to their organizations was hard because they wore college shirts during the event,” Villena told the Varsitarian.

Archi has new attendance checker

The Student Affairs chief appeared to have been annoyed by the Medicine student council president’s tepid response to her invitation for the STRAW – that it was not in the nature of Medicine students to join University activities.

Medicine student council president Simon Bunyi could not be reached for comment.

Villena rushed to the defense of Medicine students. “We cannot blame them from their lack of participation because of their simultaneous work and studies,” she said.

A student leader from the College of Fine Arts and Design said officers were unable to participate during the STRAW because it coincided with the college week.

Villena said the STRAW’s success ultimately depends on the student body. “I believe STRAW was a brave move. It deviated from the norm and served as an agent of change. But its success will only depend on the students’ response,” she said.


During the dialogue, Cabral revealed that some student organizations had conducted activities without her office’s consent.

But an academic society president from the Faculty of Arts and Letters told the Varsitarian, on condition of anonymity, that organizations tend to bypass Cabral because of the rigorous process of securing approvals, aside from time constraints.

“Although we prepare the necessary papers weeks before (a student activity), we do not get the signature of the dean and other faculty administrators in time for (the Office of Student Affairs) to approve,” the Artlets society president said.

Cabral also pointed out that some organizations in the Tan Yan Kee building are not properly utilizing their offices. She warned that if this continues, she will be forced to hand over ill-maintained offices to other organizations.

Archi has new attendance checker

“Starting today, organizations which are not working as expected will be given only two warnings. Otherwise, your recognition will be jeopardized,” Cabral said.

Cabral reminded student leaders to serve as good examples to the student body.

“The strength of the University lies in you,” she said.


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