THE CENTRAL Board, the legislative body of the Central Student Council (CSC), is set to pass the proposed Magna Carta of Students’ Rights.

“Hopefully, before the school year ends, the Magna Carta has already reached the Father Rector,” Milfen Alvarado, speaker of the Central Board, told the Varsitarian.

Alvarado explained that after the Charter has been approved by the Office of Student Affairs (OSA), it would be passed to UST Rector Fr. Ernesto Arceo, O.P., who will meet with the Varsitarian, Board of Trustees, UST Faculty Union, Academic Senate, Board of Regents, and non-academic employees.

Once the charter is approved b y the representatives, it will undergo a referendum for its ratification by the student body, Alvarado said.

In an interview with the Varsitarian, Fr. Arceo said that he supports the idea of the University adopting the charter so as to better clarify students’ rights and prevent conflicts.

“In the end, there won’t be overlapping and misunderstanding of rights between the students and the administration,” the Rector said.

Fr. Arceo said he hopes the proposed Magna Carta would empower the students so that they could better take part in the political life of the University.

He said that the nation needs good politicians and public servants, and the students should become the future agents of social transformation.

The draft was finalized last December by the original authors, the 2004 Central Board of the Charter, as well as by the current Central Board, composed of all the local student council presidents, and the OSA.

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“The (final draft of the) Magna Carta is more comprehensive since it covers future problems that were overlooked by the original authors, thus empowering the studentry,” Alvarado said.

Some of the new provisions include making professors to take into consideration the academic loads of their students before imposing deadlines, and protection to students from being compelled by teachers to attend make-up classes.

Other new provisions, still being questioned by OSA, include allowing the admission of pregnant students to the University, and allowing students to voice out their opinions against school policies which they deem detrimental to their interest without fear of expulsion, suspension, or denial or scholarship from the University.

Regarding the provision stating that pregnant students would not be denied admission or even a scholarship, the OSA has suggested that only those who are married should be admitted. OSA explained that the limitation “is in consonance with the values and culture of UST.”

But Florentino Hornedo, a Philosophy and Literature professor at the Faculty of Arts and Letters and Graduate School, said putting obstacles on pregnant woman trying to gain admission into Catholic schools has only driven women to commit abortion.

Moreover, the OSA has declared itself to be the “Final Interpreter” of the provisions of the charter, even on provisions covering academic issues such as academic load that are the jurisdiction of the faculties and colleges. In other schools, the final interpretation is vested on the “school council” consisting of student representatives, which, in the case of Ateneo de Manila University, is “the highest policy-making body of the university.”

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For issues regarding tuition increase, the charter mandates that parents and students should be consulted first.

A new provision is on the right of the students to participate in policy-making. Thus guarantees students the right to initiate the adoption or modification of school policies affecting them. Kristine Jane R. Liu

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