Students’ Code, in-campus protests, student-prof relationship tackled in CSC mandatory debate

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Candidates for the Central Student Council (CSC) Executive Board elections faced off during the mandatory debate last April 3 at the Plaza Mayor, tackling issues including the passage of the Students’ Code, in-campus protests and improving the relationship between students and professors.

Presidential bets Francis Gabriel Santos and Karizza Kamille Cruz promised to work for the approval of the Students’ Code which has languished for 14 years, should they be chosen to lead the student body next academic year.

The code contains provisions on academic rights, freedom of expression, the right to information, participation in policymaking, the right to organize and the right to due process.

Cruz, a Civil Law sophomore who had served in the CSC and in the Civil Law Student Council as secretary, said she would make a written appeal to UST Rector Fr. Herminio Dagohoy, O.P.

“[T]ayo ay susulat sa Father Rector para ipasa na ang Students’ Code dito sa UST. Bilang pinakamataas na posisiyon dito sa ating unibersidad, alam ko po na siya ay paniniwalaan ng ating mga regents at ng ating mga deans,” she said.

Santos, who served as public relations officer (PRO) this academic year, said he would lobby for the passage of a Students’ Code at the national level.

“[A]ng gagawin natin, lalabas tayo ng UST, doon tayo sa Kongreso [at] magtatayo tayo ng National [Students’ Rights and Welfare] Coalition. ‘Pag napasa iyon sa kongreso, saklaw [nito] ang UST. Hindi lang UST ang makikinabang, kung hindi ang bawat mag-aaral na Filipino,” the political science junior said.

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On the hazing death of UST law freshman Horacio “Atio” Castillo III, Cruz said Civil Law Dean Nilo Divina should not be held accountable. “I don’t think he is accountable for the acts of his [fraternity brothers] and for the acts of the students of Civil Law.”

Santos said council officers had met with Dagohoy and proposed revisions to the UST Student’s Handbook, including a stricter policy on the recognition of organizations and fraternities in the University.

Awareness on political, social issues

Sole vice-presidential candidate Victor Amores said he supported protests involving political and social issues and would be willing to facilitate one as long as there would be no disruption or violence.

Amores, a biochemistry junior, however, admitted he lacked involvement in national issues and in voicing out his opinions on social media.

“Nakikita ko ‘yong mga issues na ‘yun and siguro kakulangan ko rin na hindi ako nagsasabi ng opinyon ko through social media,” he said.

Asked how he could assure Thomasians of an active council, to address criticism of apathy in previous years, Amores said he would coordinate with local student councils to come up with common positions on certain issues.

“Unang-una sisiguraduhin ko ‘yung pros and cons ng issue na ‘yun. Makikipag-ugnayan ako sa mga local student councils, pagme-meeting-an natin to kung ano ba talaga ‘yung stand natin sa issue na ‘yun. And I think ito na ‘yung ibibigay nating awareness sa mga Thomasians na ito ‘yung stand natin,” he said.

Students’ dissatisfaction on profs

Candidates for secretary Carol Balita and Robert Gonzales vowed to address students’ dissatisfaction among some instructors and professors in the University.

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Medicine freshman Gonzales said he would help improve the faculty evaluation scheme to allow students and professors to “develop the skills to engage in continual self-evaluation.”

Balita, a journalism junior, urged Thomasians to boycott their classes if relaying their problems to their professors directly do not work.

“[K]ung ‘yun ang way para ma-realize ng professor na ayaw na ng mga estudyante ng sistema, gawin po natin, wag po tayo matakot na baka ibagsak kasi karapatan pa rin po talaga natin,” Balita told the Varsitarian at the sidelines of the debate.

Candidate for treasurer Alek Santa Ana, who is also running unopposed, urged students to vote for him and not to leave the ballot “unanswered” as the duty of the CSC treasurer was “crucial.”

“Andito ako kasi ‘yung posisiyon na tinatakbuhan ko sobrang crucial. Hindi dapat mamili ang estudyante dahil kulang pa sila sa information sa isang tao kung hindi dahil sobrang kailangan o crucial ng trabaho ng isang treasurer,” he said.

Adrian Fernando, the sole candidate for the post of auditor, said he would inform the student body of the breakdown and details of proposed budgets for projects to prevent corruption in the student council.

“We all know that prevention is better than cure. I have to educate first kung ano nga ba ang qualifications nito, ano ang budget na kailangan naka-allocate dito sa project, at ito lang ang dapat nating gastusin sa project na deserve ng student body,” he said.

In-campus protests, grievance system

PRO candidates Krianne Pineda, Jeanne Naval and Jeremiah Pasion tackled the issue of student protests and a grievance system in the University.

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When asked by Pasion if she was in favor of having to secure permits before holding protests as stated in the proposed Students’ Code, Naval said she was in favor of protests as long as they would not disturb classes.

“Karapatan natin ang freedom of speech pero hindi rin po natin dapat tapakan ang karapatan ng iba para makapag-aral ng maayos kasi tuwing rally may mga classes din po na na-aapektuhan,” she said.

Article 3 of the proposed Students’ Code states that there would be a designated “freedom park” for protests, but a permit should be “secured from the appropriate office” if students would like to assemble outside the designated place.

The PRO bets also pledged to improve the council’s grievance system.

Pineda said she would maximize the existing grievance system and make sure Thomasians won’t be afraid to raise their concerns, while Pasion said he would personally reach out to students by going to classrooms.

This year’s election campaign period will be from April 3 to 17.

Regular elections will run from April 11 to 21, and the proclamation of the new CSC officers will be on April 21. A.A.D. Suarez and L.C.H. Cruz

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