FROM STUDENT councils, interest organizations, and political parties, the University of Santo Tomas (UST) is home to an array of extra-curricular organizations that cater to Thomasians’ interests and need for holistic learning. Student leaders and concerned constituents have been in constant pursuit of amending their constitutions to adapt to the changing times and demands of their organizations. Usually, it is the students who initiate such move.
Fast forward to 2015, this grassroot-level of student lawmaking could take a different route. Due to the lack of proper documentation of some faculties and colleges, the University’s Office for Student Affairs (OSA) wants to hold a constitutional convention with all faculties, colleges, and institutes to revisit their constitutions. This will, in turn, yield proper documentation of the ratification and a uniform constitutional structure.
Former Student Welfare and Development Board (SWDB) Chairperson Atty. Antonio Chua explained that the primary aim of the constitutional convention is to document the ratification of the constitutions of the student councils and organizations, saying that there is a need to revisit how these constitutions came to being.
“Hanapin ang constitution ng AB. Eto ba ang constitution natin? Nobody knows [why]. Walang proper documentation…sinong nag-propose? Let’s say in 1990…How many votes were cast by the students against the constitution? Dapat may selyo ‘yun, may mga signature and it is properly deposited in the Deans’ office and in the OSA. Meron bang ganon? Walang formalities,” Chua told the Flame.
Chua added that this move is likewise in compliance with ISO standards.
Meanwhile, Central SWDB Chairperson Arlene Calara called this constitutional revision plan as the “Rules and Procedures on Adaption, Ratification, Amendment, [and] Revision of the Student Council Constitution.”
“Kumbaga, para masigurado mo na ‘yung pagkakaroon nila ng constitution ay dumaan sa tamang proseso, kasi hindi na nga ma-trace ‘yung mga old constitutions kung dumaan ba ‘yun sa plebiscite…Ine-encourage natin talaga na magkaroon ng new constitution na dumaan sa process,” Calara said.
But the OSA wants to hit two birds with one stone. According to Chua, there is also a need to revisit the constitutions’ structures to promote efficient interpretation. Thus, the uniform constitutional structure was proposed.
“If there will be a problem as to the interpretation [of the constitutions], it will be easier for us to resolve the problem because…the entire University has the same constitution…Unlike right now, we have 19 colleges and we have 19 constitutions, and for you to be able to resolve [a problem] you have to review the constitution of each and every college. That is what makes it difficult,” Chua explained.
To carry out this plan, the Central Student Council (CSC) and Student Organizations Coordinating Council (SOCC) shall draft templates which they will give to local student councils and organizations, respectively, who will draft revisions before their constitutions undergo the ratification process.
“This (constitutional convention) is for purposes of proper documentation. And since we’re going to document it, we might as well revisit it,” Chua said.
In addition, Central Board Speaker Jan Dominic Castro said that the convention will also draw the line between the duties of the CSC and SOCC.
“What we’re visualizing is that…the Central Student Council must focus more [on] political events and the SOCC will focus more on socio-cultural events, because there’s a tendency [for] both umbrella organizations to interfere with each other’s responsibilities,” Castro said.
The implementation of the constitutional revision plan is set next academic year, Calara confirmed.
On the other hand, CSC President Anna Mariz Mangalili expressed her reservations about OSA’s plan, saying that only certain aspects of the constitution must be uniform.
“Siguro meron ngang certain areas na dapat uniform kami pero meron pa rin [dapat] ‘yung magfo-focus sa certain needs ng [bawat] college.” F MICHOLO ANDRÉ I. CUCIO and ANGELIKA V. ORTEGA