The outgoing Central Student Council (CSC) Executive Board, led by Robert Dominic Gonzales, was met with the tense political climate in the Philippines and a sudden year-long term extension brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Gonzales and his CSC members were supposed to step down from the council at the end of Academic Year 2019-2020. Their terms were extended until the end of Academic Year 2020-2021.

Gonzales said he made good on his promise, made two years ago, to prioritize student representation, though he felt he could have done more.

“I think the CSC and the local councils were able to deliver the service that the student body needs most especially during this time. Yes, we have done our primary duties but I think we could have done more,” Gonzales told the Varsitarian in a Zoom interview.

Gonzales said the CSC, under his presidency, was able to advocate for reforms and issues that affected students the most. 

“Representation does not stop within the University, hanggang sa national level siya… [N]akakatuwa kasi kahit na sabihin na nating student council lang tayo sa UST, we still made an impact in [other] universities all over the Philippines, so that is really a big thing,” he added.

CSC Executive Secretary Krizia Bricio, who led the executive board when Gonzales went on a leave of absence, said representation mattered more than pushing for the projects they had planned.

“We saw na ang pinaka-importante ngayong time ng pandemic is student representation more than the events that we used to hold sa CSC,” Bricio told the Varsitarian.

The CSC, under Gonzales’s term, became a co-petitioner of the youth-led coalition against the Anti-Terrorism Law of 2020.


In line with the CSC’s focus on student representation, Gonzales said officers had to boost the grievance system to address the concerns of Thomasians amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Whenever we receive emails, parang pare-pareho ang concerns ng mga estudyante and that makes it more alarming kasi it’s not just an isolated case of just one student experiencing it,” he said. 

Bricio, who handled the CSC’s paperwork, however, lamented how it was difficult for the CSC to receive responses from UST officials about certain issues.

“There are just some offices na mahirap din talaga i-contact. I guess it’s because of the pandemic itself,” she said.

Gonzales recalled the council experiencing delays in project implementation due to the Office of Student Affairs’ lack of an approval process during the early days of the pandemic.

Transitions, adjustments

Aside from the transition to the online setup, the CSC officials said the council had to adjust to the appointment of Fr. Richard Ang, O.P. as the 97th Rector Magnificus of UST.

“During that time, we also had the transition to a new admin. And then nagkaroon din ng transition sa other offices and of course there were unforeseen circumstances pagdating sa mga officials natin,” Bricio said. 

Gonzales said officers had to “reinvent” their projects to fit the limitations imposed by the pandemic. 

“We tried to reinvent them in a way na pwede siya gawin through online platforms, so majority no’n ang focus ay mga community development projects at saka mga projects dealing with mental health, campaigns and advocacies,” he said.

In retrospect

Of the 60 projects the CSC members proposed since 2019, only 13 were implemented. 

Gonzales launched “Project HOPE,” which aimed to motivate Thomasians amid the Covid-19 pandemic, on Jan. 30.

Gonzales also led the launch of “KASANGGA: Students’ Rights and Welfare Week,” which happened in February, and “EKONdisyon,” an economic forum, in January. 

Bricio, who proposed 17 proposed projects, launched three.

Bricio organized “Secretariat 2019: Chamber of Secretaries,” a one-day seminar and workshop, on September 14, 2019.

She also mounted “SINAG Youth Camp,” a three-day leadership workshop for partner-communities, in July 2019 and was in charge of the welcoming party for UST freshmen in 2019, along with CSC reasurer Jan Rafael Lipat and auditor Patricia Cruz.

During her campaigns, Bricio called for a better grievance system and for the CSC to be more vocal on social issues.

Lipat proposed nine projects, four of which were completed in 2019. 

Lipat organized  “Byaheng USTe: University Expo 2019,” an event that showcased cultural diversity among colleges in the University, on Aug. 15, 2019. 

Another project under Lipat’s leadership was “DIAMONDS: Finance Officers Bootcamp,” a symposium on financial literacy, which happened on Sept. 26, 2019.

Lipat also spearheaded the “Humans of UST” exhibit, held on Nov. 21 to 23, 2019.

Cruz, whose campaign for auditorship revolved around transparency and efficiency, proposed seven projects, of which five materialized.

Cruz was able to hold “Veritas Policy”, a system that mandates auditors of local student councils to release their records; “Experience CSC,” a project where Thomasians volunteered for CSC events; and “Veritas 2.0: Auditing Beyond Numbers” in December 2019.

Public Relations Officer (PRO) Jericho Sun proposed four projects. None were implemented up to his resignation. with reports from Charlize Gabriel L. Linantud


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