CANDIDATES for the Central Student Council (CSC) Executive Board elections clashed on Thursday in a mandatory debate that highlighted contentious University issues such as tuition hikes, council funds and student apathy.
Lakas Tomasino Coalition (LTC) standard-bearer Steven Grecia, who is running unopposed for the presidency, said he would support tuition increases as long as they were justified.
“I am pro-tuition hike as long as it is justifiable. As for the 10-percent increase, I am against it,” Grecia said during the debate at the UST Grandstand.
At the sidelines of the debate, Grecia, who won the CSC vice presidency last year, vowed to appeal for a lower tuition hike.
The University has proposed to increase tuition by 10 percent to increase the salaries of faculty members and maintain school facilities, amid the disruption caused by the K to 12 transition.
“Yung mga ganitong systems, kailangan natin i-question. Hindi puwedeng tanggap lang ng tanggap ng ibinibigay,” Grecia told the Varsitarian.
“Tayo pa rin ang primary stakeholders ng University and regardless sa magiging stand ng administration, we are for the students,” he said.
Thirteen candidates were given two minutes each to answer questions asked by a panel composed of Rafaella Potestades of the Thomasian Debaters’ Council, Becarios de Santo Tomas Vice President Mark Tolentino and Varsitarian news reporter Roy Abrahmn Narra.
Not a ‘shadow’
The vice-presidential bets both sought to go beyond their constitutional duties, and stressed on the need for an inclusive council that promotes student involvement.
Gabriela Sepulchre (LTC) said the vice president is not a “shadow” of the president. She stressed her “advocacy of peace,” which she said she would promote alongside student welfare.
Lakas ng Diwang Tomasino (Lakasdiwa) bet Renz Santiago said student involvement could be attained through “the right projects.”
Candidates for secretary Alexandra Guevarra (LTC), Trixie Domingo (Lakasdiwa) and Therese Gorospe (Independent) all vowed to address student apathy toward University and national issues.
Candidates for the position of treasurer clashed on the “recycling” of projects by previous CSC officers.
Daveson Nieto (LTC), who had served as executive coordinator to incumbent CSC Public Relations Officer (PRO) Jherome Ramos, defended the practice. “I see no reason why we should amend projects if they really are effective,” he said.
Lakasdiwa’s Daniel Reyes said the practice “short-cuts” Thomasian service.
Aston Estorpe (Lakasdiwa) and Richard Javier (LTC) argued on the use of CSC funds.
Estorpe said the funds should be used to the “last centavo for a full service to the students,” while Javier said it should be used frugally.
PRO candidates Rhorick Legaspi (Lakasdiwa), Lance Santiago (LTC) and Francis Santos (Independent) had heated exchanges over whether Thomasians should join protests over social issues.
Santos said the CSC should have the initiative to inform Thomasians about social issues, while Legaspi and Santiago both preferred consultations with the students and the administration in crafting a University-wide stand on social issues.
The mandatory debate, “Tagisan 2017,” was organized by the UST Central Commission on Elections (Comelec).
The campaign period will end on April 8 while the elections will take place on April 18 to 21.
The Central Comelec will officially announce the new set of CSC officers on April 23 after the two days of canvassing needed under a manual voting system.
After nine years of electronic voting, the poll body will revert to manual balloting. Its contract with the Educational Technology Center has expired.