STRUCK BY controversies and distrust, the Faculty of Arts and Letters Student Council (ABSC) is taking light but bold steps in regaining the Artlets’ trust. Those plaguing issues did not fall on deaf ears, but generated much interest among Artlets—as the supermajority is still walking on eggshells.
The trust shattered into pieces when P 50,000-worth of Artlet activity funds went missing under the watch of then-council Treasurer Julienne Avila and then-council President Marie Jann Klaire Lazo.
The ax fell against the two officers who were held guilty of gross negligence of duties, and as consequence, did not receive their certificates of good moral character and were not given the reimbursement for the cash advance they paid to cover the lost fund. Avila also served 50 hours of community service.
Avila even had guts to run again for Treasurer—the position she is held accountable for. She went on telling Artlets that she would correct her past mistakes, but she refused to step down.
Eventually, she actually did, but only when it was time for the mandatory resignation of officers who are running for elective positions. Luckily, Artlets were not swayed, and Avila lost her reelection bid for good.
A few months after the missing fund incident, the same administration brought in Bright Ravens Printing Co., the infamous supplier of the Type-B uniforms. Selected through what Lazo called a “bidding process,” it was Avila who selected the fraudulent supplier which was tasked to produce 8,648 pieces of Type-B uniforms that were meant to keep Artlets cool during the scorching heat of March, April and May.
However, the production failed horribly and the backlogs piled up.
The dreadful task of compelling the much incapable supplier to cough up hundreds of Type-B uniforms weekly fell on the watch of the then-incoming ABSC President Jan Dominic Castro.
It took the length of the Castro administration to remedy the backlogs but it covered only a majority of it. Some shirts remain undistributed as their owners had graduated—just like the officers liable for such failures.
Lazo and Avila left stains that are impossible to erase. Written in the pages of campus publications, the two were no less than vilified for such proclivity in handling major duties. The issues expanded a gap between the Artlets and their supposed student body, reducing ABSC into criticisms and a branding of mere “event organizers.”
The two were just like Bright Ravens Printing Co., gone and free. The two marched during their graduation all with heavy make-up and big smiles on their faces, just like what Mark Beltran—the Artlet who entered ABSC into contract with their family business—would soon do.
Given the fact that the current officers of the student council ran and won under the same banner, Artlets expect them to be a united council, in the hopes that they would work together for a controversy-free student council anchored on genuine leadership, along with the top expectation of not being an organization that would be a laughingstock and mockery of failure.
With more teeth expected to be given to the ABSC Constitution once amended, the current and future officers will be under an unforgiving constitution and scrutinizing, watchful Artlets—prompting all of the officers who are party-mates to work toward an end goal.
Lest there be another Mark Gil Quitoy, who in 2011, stepped down as the ABSC Treasurer. Quitoy, who allegedly mishandled the council funds, remedied the issue under the radar even before the whole Board of Majors (BOM) can act and conduct an inquiry.
The previous ABSC Treasurer was able to resolve his issue with the help of the then-BOM Speaker, who was his party-mate. His case could have been the first incident of a dismal fund handling and probably an issue that could have forewarned Avila in 2014—if only it had been known by Artlets.
As such, the Faculty must not lose sight of the central, crucial fact: officers come and go, but the failures remain—and it will continue to haunt and taint the present and future. That failure will serve as a fearful guide and a learning experience for those who are trusted with the duty of being one with the studentry and being with them when faced against bigger entities in the University. F
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