Majority of ABSC bets want full face-to-face learning next academic year

(From left to right) Artlets Student Council Academic Year 2023-2024 candidates Timothy John Santiago (president), Justine Claire Ello (internal vice-president, independent), Josh Enriquez Moncayo (internal vice-president, DEKADA), Hannah Patricia Calara (secretary, DEKADA), Josh Matthew Enriquez (external vice-president, DEKADA), Rachelle Anne Mirasol (public relations officer, DEKADA), Joseph Lorsan Coronel (auditor, DEKADA), and Gabriel Gabrillo (secretary, independent).

MAJORITY OF the candidates seeking posts in the Artlets Student Council (ABSC) are pushing for the return of full in-person learning next academic year, saying students and UST administrators should work together to ensure its safe implementation.

The Office of the Vice Rector for Academic Affairs (OVRAA) recently released a set of guidelines stating that the University won’t implement full face-to-face learning next school year.

According to the OVRAA memorandum containing the guidelines, no course shall be delivered purely onsite “to ensure that academic staff and students continue to enhance instruction through the use of the UST Cloud Campus and other technology tools acquired by the University.”

Though he recognizes the efforts of UST to implement limited face-to-face classes, candidate for ABSC president and philosophy sophomore Timothy John Cayton Santiago of DEKADA reiterated the call for safe return to schools.

“I believe that it’s high time for us students to come back to face-to-face settings, because for the longest time, we’ve been here for almost three years in a hybrid or online set up,” Santiago said.

“[S]o if ever we are elected as the next president of the [ABSC], along with the next executive board next year, we’ll really try to push for [an] open dialogue with the (AB) admin to ensure the safe return of students to campus,” he added.

DEKADA’s candidate for internal-vice president and legal management sophomore Josh Enrique Moncayo echoed this, describing the University’s decision to retain the hybrid learning set-up as “anti-poor.” He cited the struggle of students who live outside Luzon and Metro Manila who had to find dorms, only to attend classes “at least twice a week.”

“I am against hybrid set-up classes and we aim to push for a safe return to schools in a 100% capacity, provided that there are proper systems in place, proper time frame and scheduling, as well as proper dialogue with students,” the candidate for internal vice president said.

To achieve this, external-vice president candidate John Matthew Enriquez of DEKADA said his party would “establish a system” that would facilitate a dialogue among the AB administration, faculty, organizations, and students.

Hannah Patricia Calara, DEKADA’s candidate for secretary said UST is already “left behind” by other big universities when it comes to onsite classes.

“We must continue to communicate with the admin so that we can promote the students’ interest to make sure that the policies and actions they are planning are really pro-student,” Calara said.

DEKADA’s public relations officer candidate and journalism sophomore Rachelle Anne Mirasol believes the University is capable of adopting this setup through “collaboration and dialogues” that would reduce the burden of students who cannot afford to rent dormitories.

“[W]e as a united Thomasian community must collectively respond to the demands of the students and not allow the student body to suffer the consequences of inaccessible education,” Mirasol said.

Political science freshman Joseph Larson Coronel, DEKADA’s candidate for auditor, believes the administrators’ efforts to transition to face-to-face classes would not suffice.

“I believe that with the proper systems… and with enough time and consultation with the students, I believe we can return to full face-to-face classes just like what we were doing before the pandemic,” Coronel said.

Two candidates said the transition to in-person learning should not be abrupt and should be discussed constantly with students.

Independent candidate for internal-vice president and creative writing freshman Justine Claire Ello said the push for face-to-face classes should be “gradual.”

“I am okay with the hybrid set-up as long as there are policies regarding the safety of our students […] We should not suddenly say, ‘Okay, let’s go hybrid next year,’ and then they will say (University officials) that’s after paying the housing fees,” the former ABSC director for mental health said.

This was echoed by independent candidate for secretary and Asian studies sophomore Gabriel Gabrillo, adding that the University should allocate days for on-site and online classes as having both of them on the same day is “problematic.”

Still, the University should push for the full return of students on campus since face-to-face classes are “more conducive” than the hybrid set-up, Gabrillo said.

“I think that we should still continue our push or call for safe return to face-to-face classes for the next academic year. But of course, it shouldn’t be sudden, it needs to be gradual,” he said. F – Z. A. Aguinaldo, R.N. Moya and M.Y. Pante

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