THOMASIANS will have to wait a little longer for the long-overdue Students’ Code or Magna Carta for Student Rights as it is still pending before the Rector, despite repeated reviews and revisions from administrators and the student council.

Central Student Council (CSC) President Leandro Santos II said the proposed code seems to be gathering dust despite the council’s efforts to hasten its adoption by holding a consultation with local student council officers as early as July.

“While waiting for the Rector’s approval, we are planning to pass a report to the Rector about the students’ reaction to the code by conducting a survey. Then, we will submit [to the Rector] another revised version incorporating comments from the Student Welfare and Development Board (SWDB),” he said.

The initial version of the Thomasian Students’ Code, or the Magna Carta for Student Rights, was drafted under the term of CSC president Xialeemar Valdeavilla six years ago.

Student representation in various UST offices, Valdeavilla said, was one of the provisions included in the first draft.

“There were provisions recognizing the right of students in participating in the policy-making activities of the administration. I am just not sure if those were retained in the latest version [of the code],” she said.

Valdeavilla noted that the code was later on caught up by the leadership change in UST three years ago, when Rector Fr. Ernesto Arceo, O.P. resigned and was replaced by De la Rosa.

“There were no conflicts during my time because we merely drafted the constitution. I think what hampered the code was the change of Rector, and Office for Student Affairs (OSA) heads,” she said.

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OSA chief Prof. Evelyn Songco agreed. “It’s taking time because there was never a constant leadership. Also, the CSC only has 10 months to serve and within those 10 months, that (student’s code) is not their only concern.”

The campaign for the code reached its height during academic year 2007-2008 under the term of CSC president Reyner Villaseñor, who claims he was able to cover all bases.

“We were able to secure comments from the Council of Regents, the Academic Senate, the vice rector for academic affairs, Clarita Carillo, and the office of the Rector. We also gathered reviews from [local] student councils, as well as OSA.

In a nutshell we were able to accomplish almost every requirement,” he said.

Songco, assistant to the Rector for student affairs who replaced Cristina Cabral last year, agreed the process of drafting the code has been “tedious” because the code does not only concern the students but also the faculty and administration.

“This code will not just affect the students so naturally, there will be some comments from the faculty and administrators,” Songco said.

“If the student’s code only affects the students then its passage would have been easy. But the code involves certain expectations from other sectors, thus they must also have a right to give their recommendations,” she added.

Student representation

Student participation in the University’s policy-making activities garnered the most number of revisions since the code was first drafted.

Article 5, Section 2 of the original draft sated that the CSC president and speaker of the central board will represent students in the Board of Trustees, UST’s highest policy making body. This provision was removed.

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In Article 5, Section 3 of the first version, a list of policy-making bodies and the number of student representatives were specified, while in Article 5, Section 2 of the latest version, the Central Student Council will represent the student body in all policy-making bodies identified by the administration, faculty, non-teaching personnel, and students.

Originally, representatives to the Academic Senate, which formulates policies on instruction, and the SWDB will come from the central board, while the latest version states that only the CSC president is the sole representative to the senate and SWDB.

The code however added the central board in the process of reviewing the rates of fees for the use of school facilities and the appointment of local student council officials as student representatives to the

local SWDBs, in Article 6, Section 6.

Meanwhile, college deans were designated to approve course syllabi in Article 2, Section 6 of the latest version, a departure from the first version which assigned the task to college departments.

Professors must have a 50-percent weighted overall score in student evaluations. Moreover, school facilities will be evaluated by students under Article 2, Section 10 of the latest version.

The right of students to peacefully assemble in a designated freedom park is also provided under Article 3, Section 3 of the latest version.

‘Tug-of-war’

Former student leaders believe deliberations over the code were disrupted by the sudden resignation of Father Arceo as rector, and the transition to De la Rosa in 2007.

“There was no smooth transition from Father Arceo to Father De la Rosa’s terms because of the unexpected resignation of the former,” Villaseñor said.

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Angelo Cachero, former CSC president, had to start the process again since the code’s passage was reset during Villaseñor’s term.

“When the Rector was changed, the people in the offices also changed, so they had to give copies of the code to the newly assigned people and give them time to read the document again,” Villaseñor said.

Villaseñor also said student leaders were divided. “There were problems with the administration and the students themselves. It’s the usual bureaucratic red tape with the former and the partisan divisions of the latter,” he said.

“If the code gets to be approved, it will carry the title ‘Thomasian Students’ Code,’ not the name of any party,” Villaseñor said. I.C.B. Antonio, M A. Gamboa, M. N. Ladisla

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