Beleaguered OSA chief goes on medical leave

UST to dialogue with student orgs in the wake of TomWeb photo fiasco

THE MUCH-CRITICIZED head of the UST Office for Student Affairs (OSA) is out of her post, at least for now, but not because of a termination notice from the rector but due to a medical leave made known days after several groups called for her ouster.

In a statement, UST said it has accepted the application for medical leave of OSA Director Maria Tio Cuison, whose office has drawn intense backlash after pressuring campus media entity TomasinoWeb to take down its now controversial 7-Eleven photo.

The University, which did not mention Cuison’s name in its statement, said Asst. Prof. Jaezamie Ong has been named officer-in-charge of OSA.

“It assures all student leaders that the University listens to its stakeholders,” the University said in a Facebook post on Thursday, March 14.

The announcement came two days after Thomasian student leaders and activists called on Rector Fr. Richard Ang O.P. to terminate Cuison and her deputy Regina Arriero for what they described as ’“campus repression” and “abuse of power.”

In an open letter to Ang, a number of groups representing Thomasians students, including TomasinoWeb and the Artlets Student Council, accused OSA of abuse of power and disrespect of academic freedom and democratic rights.

READ: A day after appointment of new adviser, TomasinoWeb joins call to sack OSA officials

OSA has been under fire for nearly a month after it ordered campus media entity TomasinoWeb to take down a photo of two College of Information and Computer Sciences (CICS) students entering the 7-Eleven branch inside UST for supposedly causing “public ridicule.”

The photo supposedly highlighted the similarity between the CICS type B uniform and the uniform of 7-Eleven workers.

READ: TomWeb photo of CICS students entering 7-Eleven taken down after drawing ‘concerns’ from UST officials

OSA reportedly warned TomasinoWeb of a possible non-reaccreditation as a recognized student organization because of the  photo, which was originally posted on its social media accounts last Feb. 15.  TomasinoWeb has insisted that the photo was ‘harmless” and did not intend to embarrass the CICS and the University.

Some UST alumni have expressed support for TomasinoWeb and called for an end to OSA’s “repressive, arbitrary, and outdated policies.”

Despite the outrage sparked by the OSA’s reaction to the 7-Eleven photo, UST was largely silent on the controversy, although a Philippine Star article quoted the Office of Public Affairs as saying that the University “values the inputs shared on various platforms” on the issue.

The controversy has also spilled over to Congress, with Kabataan Partylist representative Raoul Manuel filing a resolution seeking a probe on OSA’s censorship against TomasinoWeb and “other violations of student democratic rights.”

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