THE CENTRAL Student Council (CSC) Executive Board elections has been exceptional and controversial.
After the UST Central Commission on Elections canvassed the 28,873 votes cast by the Thomasians through manual voting, it was revealed that majority of the student body opted to abstain in four out of six posts in the CSC Executive Board.
The University was heralded as “abstain nation” as no contenders for the positions of president, vice president, treasurer and auditor won the elections. Only preschool education junior Therese Gorospe, who won 11,319 votes, and political science sophomore Francis Santos, who got with 9,877, secured the positions of secretary and public relations officer, respectively. What’s interesting was the fact that Gorospe and Santos were independent candidates, or not affiliated to political parties.
This development in student politics has taken Thomasians by surprise. Is this the consequence of dissatisfaction and distrust of the students toward the governing body? Or is this apathy on the part of the majority that did not exert enough effort to know the candidates and their platforms?
Because the Thomasian community took its right to vote lightly, it faces the prospect of a non-functioning student government. How can a government work if in the first place, there are no leaders to represent them? The processes of interest aggregation and articulation of concerns will not take place if there is no government in charge.
Those who have not experienced leading a political body will most likely just complain that the craft of politics is tedious and “dirty.” But the turnout of this year’s elections clearly does not indicate apathy. In fact, Thomasians are not politically and socially apathetic.
What kind of micro-politics is there in a university where there is only one candidate for the highest position in the student body, yet failed to win because most voters opted to abstain? The overwhelming 15,803 abstentions against the sole presidential candidate Steven Muller Grecia of Lakas Tomasino Coalition (LTC) prove that Thomasians are aware of what’s happening around them. The students are finally learning to put a stop to apathy, because after all, everybody should be involved in the affairs of the University.
The dissatisfaction of the students on the candidates’ capabilities may be traced from the issues faced by the previous council headed by Janela Love Nartates: the CSC’s silence during the burial of the late President Ferdinand Marcos in the Libingan ng mga Bayani, the CSC’s infamous statement of granting the Marcoses pardon for their atrocities during Martial Law and Grecia’s expression of support for a tuition hike (so long as it is justifiable).
Candidates for vice president Gabriela Angela Sepluchre (LTC) and Renz Santiago (Lakas ng Diwang Tomasino) also came under fire on social media after their poor responses to a debate question about Martial Law.
Maybe what is dysfunctional in the political setup in UST are the political parties. Do LTC, Lakasdiwa and other local political parties, really advocate a political ideology, or are they just like the political parties in national politics, a microscopic duplicate of political affiliation, more faithful to convenience and allies rather than to principles? Gorospe and Santos were the only winning candidates, yet they did not run under any political banner or color.
Let’s do away with traditional politics. Thomasians care less about the projects and credentials of a leader. What they need is a pro-active and democratic council that truly represents them.