A new kind of apathy? 2019 student polls has lowest number of bets in recent years

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UST’s student politics yields only eight candidates for the 2019 Central Student Council elections.

STUDENT council elections in the University this year will be marked by an incomplete set of candidates for several positions both in the central and local levels, the lowest number of bets in the recent election history of UST.

In the Central Student Council (CSC) Executive Board elections, only eight candidates are running for six positions, with only the post of secretary having more than one candidate.

No student also filed his or her candidacy for the council vice presidency.

John Renze Gelua, president of the UST Political Science Forum, said most Thomasians might be afraid of the possible repercussions when they voice out their opinions on pressing issues.

“May ibang priorities pa kasi sila (Thomasians), aware sila sa social issues pero hindi nila nakikita ‘yong relevance nang pakikipag-participate,” Gelua told the Varsitarian in an interview.

CSC Secretary Robert Gonzales is the sole presidential candidate in the April student polls. This was after the UST Central Commission on Elections (Comelec) disqualified Worship Acosta, standard-bearer of the Lakas Tomasino Coalition (LTC), for his failure to submit an undisclosed requirement.

Three candidates will contest the post of secretary. Legal management freshman Krizia Milleny Bricio (independent) will face advertising arts senior Nicholas Sia (LTC) and the sole Lakas ng Diwang Tomasino (Lakasdiwa) bet, chemistry freshman Karch Andrei Rafael.

LTC bets Rafael Lipat, a political science junior, and Patricia Claire Cruz, an accountancy freshman, will run unopposed for the positions of treasurer and auditor, respectively.

Physical therapy sophomore Ian Jericho Sun (LTC), is the sole candidate for the position of public relations officer.

Gonzales said Thomasians were not apathetic but instead were just afraid to act up on their opinions. There is also a “trust” issue, he said.

“Nawawalan ng trust ‘yong student body natin sa nagre-represent sa kanila sa konseho,” he said. “Hindi ako naniniwalang apathetic ang mga Thomasians, natatakot lamang silang kumilos,” Gonzales said during the mandatory debate for CSC bets on April 13.

Bricio said the shift to K to 12 curriculum, which led to the decline of enrollees in UST, could also be blamed for the lack of candidates.

Lanz Hernandez of the Thomasian Debate Council claimed the apathy of Thomasians was because of their fear to compromise their liberal and progressive opinions with the conservative views of the UST administration.

“In a way, apathy stems from fear. The mere act of voting or choosing the right candidates is the best way for students to voice their issues,” Hernandez said.

In the local student council polls, several colleges will welcome the next academic year with an incomplete set of student leaders.

Half of the 24 local student councils in the University have only one candidate running for president.

The Institute of Information and Computing Sciences, for instance, only has two candidates running for its student council, particularly for the positions of auditor and public relations officer. 

In the Faculty of Civil Law Student Council, there are only three candidates for the positions of president, internal vice president and secretary. 

The student polls in the Institute of Physical Education and Athletics (IPEA) will have the same number of candidates for the same positions. 

The College of Nursing only has three positions with candidates. No student filed for candidacy for the positions of president, vice president, assistant secretary, assistant treasurer and auditor. 

The Faculty of Engineering Student Council polls also lack candidates for external vice president and treasurer, while the College of Rehabilitation Sciences has no candidates running for internal vice president and treasurer.

The College of Science has no candidates for treasurer and assistant treasurer while in the College of Fine Arts and Design, no student ran for treasurer and auditor.

‘Same rules apply’
Comelec chief Moriah Mendiola said the electronic voting system would be retained for this year’s election, as the system was deemed “successful” last year.

There will still be no option to “abstain,” in compliance with the order of the Central Judiciary Board in 2017.

The campaign period, which began on March 30, ran until April 21.

The proclamation of the new CSC and local student councils’ executive board officers will be on April 27. with reports from Ahmed Khan H. Cayongcat, Neil Joshua N. Servallos and Angelika V. Ortega

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