What CSC candidates think about TomasinoWeb censorship

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CANDIDATES running in the upcoming Central Student Council (CSC) elections criticized the Office for Student Affairs (OSA) for censoring TomasinoWeb due to a social media photo, describing the reaction from UST officials as “uncalled for” but “not surprising.”

In interviews with the Varsitarian, the seven candidates shared their perspectives on the controversy involving the student affairs office, whose top officials had instructed TomasinoWeb to remove a photo showing College of Information and Computing Sciences (CICS) students in their “Type B” uniforms entering a 7-Eleven store.

Timothy Santiago, the sole candidate for the CSC presidency, said the backlash from the administration faced by TomasinoWeb was “completely uncalled for” but was something that had become normal to student councils and organizations.

“I am no longer surprised, given that post takedowns within the University have become a ‘norm’ a lot of councils and organizations face, which reflects our current situation,” Santiago said. 

“Creating such an environment within the campus is unacceptable. The act of taking down posts itself is a form of repression that infringes upon our right to free speech and expression,” he added. 

Vice presidential candidate John Enriquez pointed to what he described as a “longstanding problem with the OSA’s restrictive systems,” which he said impeded students’ right to express themselves. 

“it is unreasonable at nakikita na napaka-repressive talaga ng sistema. Ang bawat estudyante ay mayroong karapatang mamahayag at magpahayag without any repression—most especially if it directly involves them,” Enriquez said. 

After the 7-Eleven photo controversy made rounds on social media, several UST alumni and former student leaders came forward and said they had faced the same problem during their stay at the University. 

Hannah Calara, the sole candidate for secretary, said OSA’s decision to have the photo deleted showed how censorship and repression in the University was already “out of hand.”

“The University as an academic institution should be the first unit of society that encourages the sharing of knowledge, information, and freedom of expression,” Calara said. 

“Nakakahiya na sa Unibersidad pa natin ito nararanasan,” she added. 

OSA’s reaction to TomasinoWeb’s photo also showed the “disconnect between the administration and student body,” said Stephan Aseron, candidate for auditor. 

“This disconnect amplified by our restrictive system has continued to exhaust our student leaders and tie them down through bureaucratic policies such as the permission to post policy,” Aseron said.

The CSC bets called for dialogues with the administration to address the issue. 

Hanah de Leon, the sole candidate for treasurer, told the Varsitarian that student leaders must amplify the voice of the students and serve as a bridge between the administration and the Thomasian studentry. 

“I aim to make use of my position to establish a direct line of communication between our student body and the administration. Through my platform, I will lobby for more lenient policies to take effect that would address the student body’s concerns,” De Leon said. 

CSC auditor aspirant Josh Viray echoed De Leon’s sentiments, saying student leaders must be at the forefront of defending their rights and freedoms. 

“I believe the (CSC) should not be afraid to speak up and protect its constituents who are only trying to pursue the truth and their interests,” Viray said.

“[This could be done] by improving our communication with our constituents, and having numerous dialogues with the admin and pushing for less strict policies for the student body,” he added.

Public relations officer bet Francine Tuazon said she would encourage students to speak up should she win in the upcoming CSC polls. 

“I believe that a lot of Thomasians are still quite afraid of speaking out against how the University currently proceeds… I hope to encourage Thomasians to find their voices so that they, too, can feel confident to question the actions of the University alongside their peers,” Tuazon said. 

Santiago said aside from pushing for dialogues and establishing communication lines with the students, pursuing the revision of the CSC Constitution and the Students’ Code would also help address complaints on  the OSA’s operations. 

“In times like these, genuine reform is essential to uphold the principles of democracy and fairness within the Thomasian community,” he said.

Elections for the CSC Executive Board seats will be held from April 22 to 27. With reports from Mabel Anne B. Cardinez, Ernest Martin G. Tuazon, Janica Kate J. Buan, and Karis M. Tsang

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