SOMETIMES, student leaders need a little wake-up call to realize that projects supposedly for the benefit of students should be concrete and have longer-lasting effects than holding just run-of-the-mill concerts or exhibits.

This was apparently the problem of the previous Central Student Council (CSC) as it faced a struggle in achieving more effective goals for the Thomasian studentry, according to leader of a student political party.

Looking back, Al Espaldon, outgoing chairman of Alyansa ng Kristyanong Lakas (Aklas) said that no concrete long-term project was felt during the previous CSC administration, leaving incumbent CSC President Jeanne Luz Castillo to start from scratch.

“I did not see nor feel any tangible project left by Cachero’s administration,” Espaldon said when asked about projects and achievements of the previous administration under Angelo Salvador Cachero, CSC president for academic year 2008-2009.

Espaldon said that aside from exhibiting industry and willingness toward work, a leader must also strive for short-term and long-term goals.

“The problem is they do not have any long-term goals which incoming and outgoing Thomasians see and feel as they enter and leave the University,” he stated.

Espaldon expects Castillo to perform better than her predecessors.

Both Castillo and Cachero came from the Lakas Tomasino Coalition, Aklas party’s rival.

“I am expecting a lot from her although we come from different political spectrums,” he said.

Having the chance to work with Castillo in the Civil Law Student Council last year, Espaldon said that she performed well as council treasurer. Yet, this is not enough to assess the effectivity of a student leader, he said. A leader’s effectiveness and efficiency, he claimed, can be measured by answering three questions: is a leader capable of defending the rights of the students? Up to what extent can a leader uphold these rights? Are they willing to withstand the powers of the administration?

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Castillo should answer these questions using her leadership and legal knowledge, he said.

Support needed

Castillo and Cachero both said the goals of CSC were not fully attained because projects implemented by the student government lacked support from students.

Cachero said the success of CSC projects, particularly the long-term ones, depend on the strength of support from students, citing the delayed ratification of the Magna Carta of Student’s Rights or the UST Students’ Code.

“We tried our best for the students’ code but (it’s) sad to say (that) students are somewhat aloof and unaware,” former CSC president Cachero told the Varsitarian.

The students’ code was submitted to the administration by the CSC Central Board composed of the presidents of each local student council, during Cachero’s term.

Castillo agreed with Cachero’s statements, saying that the Magna Carta is not merely intended to protect the rights of the student leaders but of the studentry as well.

Castillo admitted that many students are not aware of the proposed student code. To address this concern, she said that this year the CSC will hold awareness campaigns just like the Students Rights Awareness Week during Reyner Aaron Villaseñor’s term in school year 2007-2008.

With support from students, Castillo said her administration would do its best to deliver.

This year’s CSC plans to establish a “Students’ Code Core group”, composed of the central board, members of the Dean’s Council, the UST Faculty Union, non-academic employees, and the Student Welfare Development Board, which will offer suggestions to strengthen the Student Code.

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Aside from pushing for the final approval of the students’ code, the CSC will also seek the passage of the grievance code proposed by the Central Board, which lacked the approval of administrative officials.

Espaldon said the grievance code was not only delayed by lack of support from the school administration but also from the students.

“Yet, the biggest setback to the grievance code in local student councils was the fear of the students filing an official complaint,” Espaldon said.

“This is where the role of the Student Council enters: how it would motivate the students to address any rising concern or issue on their academics especially with their professors,” Espaldon said.

The code will always on the list platforms of candidates in every election but implementation at the local level will remain unsuccessful, he added.

Castillo said she would push for another long-term project—the Thomasian Pride—which aims to intensify support for Thomasian athletes and to recognize student achievers both in the academic and non-academic fields. This will also acknowledge the achievements of each faculty and college in the University by means of exhibits and seminars, and honor outstanding Thomasian alumni who have excelled in their respective fields.

This year’s incoming Central Board will also continue the Thomasian Project 4 (TP4), an academic outreach program led by the CSC in coordination with UST Central Pax Romana, UST Scarlet Central, and Rotaract UST. This aims to help financially challenged but deserving public school students go to college.

The TP4 project has 9 working scholars in the University.

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Vision

This year, Castillo will also launch the Students’ Legal Assistance Team composed of Faculty of Civil Law Students who will provide assistance to students regarding complaints, school policies, grievances and disputes. The team will assign one member to each college and faculty.

The Tuition Fee (sic) Watch Team composed of representatives from each college and faculty will be formed to guard against “unreasonable” tuition increases.

The CSC leadership will also spearhead an environmental awareness campaign that will encourage the use of brown bags and recycled paper among members of the Thomasian community.

Order and security will also be given attention, with the CSC proposing emergency desks around the campus.

Information dissemination will be strengthened and intensified through the use of bulletin boards, text messaging and the Internet.

“I am asking for the students’ understanding that this is not easy. But still we will do our best. We will do something for our University,” she said. Andrewly A. Agaton and Alexis Ailex C. Villamor, Jr.

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