IT WAS during the thawing of Martial Law in 1981 when the University saw the revival of student political parties which were eager to test the democratic space and to introduce political change.

But nowadays, do student-politicians have what it takes to resist the paralyzing swear-and-tear culture of politics on and off campus?

The two university-wide political coalitions in the University—the Lakas Tomasino Coalition and Alyansa ng Kristiyanong Lakas (AKLAS)—have been prominently locking horns in the University’s political arena for the past few years.

These major coalitions are affiliated with local parties in different faculties and colleges of the University.

But compared to university-wide parties, college-based parties in the University are usually “messy” because of the close and compact environment they have. In the Faculty of Arts and Letters, for instance, four political parties are aggressively jostling one another for the student’s vote.

A former political party member, Philosophy major Maria Geraldine Nazareno said that his involvement in student politics at Artlets disillusioned to him despite the rather “healthy” political environment in UST.

“Student politics in Arts and Letters is chaotic not only during campaigns and elections but even for the whole academic year,” Nazareno said.

“The parties are very competitive in recruiting members or exposing their various platforms and projects. Although they try to uphold the principles of good governance, political personalities resort to promising things which cannot be achieved in the final analysis.”

As for Marion Rojas, an AB-BSE major, peer pressure led him to embrace party membership sans the conviction.

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“Several friends of mine are active members of that political party and I would feel like an outcast if I did not also join,” Rojas said.

Nursing alumna Eudel Lyn Tan likens student party affiliation to cultist advocacy which “should not be taken seriously” and whose influence is just a “disposable factor” in serving the Thomasian community.

Non-partisan

Incumbent Nursing Central Board Students president Jim Eduard Trinidad said he preferred to be non-partisan when he ran for office.

“I have more control and consistent principles while running for the position even until now as I serve,” Trinidad said.

“Parties could be beneficial if they really have humble objectives, but it is still inevitable for members to double-cross each other because of their incompatible political interests and principles.”

Whether university-wide or college-based student parties are still capable of grooming honest and diligent student-leaders remains a doubtful proposition as far as political outsiders are concerned.

“They keep on talking about promoting, initiating and protecting student rights, but after a school year they are only seen during concerts and pageants,” Irene Gwyneth Gonzales of the College of Education told the Varsitarian.

Political Science professor Reynaldo Lopez said that student politics merely satisfies the penchant of student leaders for popularity.

“These days, candidates of most student political parties do not have clear and specific platforms,” he said.

“They wanted to be elected just perhaps because of prestige.”

Lopez said that there is usually nothing wrong with student politics in UST except that commitment and deed often fall short of the rhetoric and promise.

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“The student political parties’ primary duty is to work for the interest of the students,” Lopez said. “Their stand reflects the kind of future they would build for the Thomasian community and therefore they must possess concrete and credible principles of efficient leadership.” Jonathan Eli A. Libut

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