CSC calls for more autonomy, details ‘bureaucratic’ requirements of OSA



Thomasian student council members, alumni and activists gather for a press conference and prayer vigil at the Arch of the Centuries on Wednesday, March 20.

OFFICIALS OF the UST Central Student Council (CSC) are pushing for more autonomy, saying the University’s “bureaucratic” system has hindered them from performing their functions.

Speaking to campus media on Thursday, March 20, CSC president Ierathel Tabuno and vice president Arriah Karryle Jacinto claimed OSA director Maria Tio Cuison had rejected the council’s proposals on various University and nationwide issues.

“Another one is the lack of space to purposely govern and have autonomy. We have long been in a system where our student councils inside the University are treated as event organizers only… this is a problem that we can no longer (allow to) perpetuate,” Jacinto said in a press conference in UST

“On its [CSC] actions on updating its students through its official social media pages, multiple times, the  UST CSC Office of the Public Relations Officer have been scolded and called out for the UST CSC executive board’s non-approved postings,” she added.

The UST student handbook defines the CSC as the umbrella organization of local student councils tasked to “protect and uphold the democratic rights and welfare” of Thomasian students. The handbook also states that the OSA director serves as the adviser of the student council.

The present CSC constitution, last updated in 2003, does not recognize the CSC as an autonomous organization.

According to Tabuno, the student council was ordered to revise multiple social media posts and was scolded due to posts that were rejected by Cuison, who is on medical leave.

She said Cuison had also scolded a CSC official for announcing the closure of UST gates during the Paskuhan concert last December without her approval. The announcement, published nearly an hour after the gates were closed, drew criticisms from students, including those who were prohibited from reentering the campus.

The OSA director, Jacinto claimed, had required the council’s statements to undergo the e-ReSERVe process, which is used for encoding events.

“With Veritas (a program about the council’s status and progress), it was new for this specific project that we were asked to pass a certificate… [It] was an added layer of paper that isn’t part of the normal, basic papers that were asked of us for all the previous projects we had,” Tabuno said.

CSC auditor James Arrenkiel Ceñido said the  council was required to secure approval from the OSA clerk, OSA Director, Facilities Management Office, Office of the Vice Rector for Finance and the Office of the Secretary-General, a process he described as “confusing and excessively bureaucratic.”

Tabuno said the CSC’s struggle is within the level of the adviser.

“We always have problems in terms of revisions and everything under the sun is commented on or asked to be revised before seeking for the approval of other offices,” the CSC president told The Flame.

Tabuno also alleged that the student council was red-baited and was questioned by the OSA for its informative material on the transport strike last year.

“She [Cuison] asked us if there are leftists among the council and if there are any other foreign influences who influence the action of the council,” Tabuno said.

In February, TomasinoWeb halted its social media operations following the resignation of its adviser Leo Laparan, who had assailed the OSA’s order to take down the now controversial 7-Eleven photo.

A month after the takedown of the TomasinoWeb photo, UST announced that Cuison would be on medical leave, and that Asst. Prof. Jaezamie Ong would serve as OSA’s officer-in-charge.

In an interview with The Flame, Ong said she would be supportive of student activities during her stint.

Tabuno believes it is too early to tell whether reforms will be implemented but is hopeful that there will be changes in the system.

“At least something changed (…) For the years to come that it had persisted in our system, something changed, and we’re hopeful [of] that,” she added.

The Flame reached out to Cuison for comment but has yet to receive a response.

‘Not out of the table’

While there have been no discussions about calls to make CSC independent from OSA, Tabuno said the option is “not out of the table”

“Part of it is actually providing the platform to our students who were specifically victims of the system that we are in,” Tabuno said.

“Whatever that’s in the best interest of the Central Student Council and students in general in the future, we’re open to it,” she added.

The student press conference was held by representatives of student organizations, professors and Thomasian student activists. It was held on the same day six candidates withdrew their candidacies for the UST CSC polls due to alleged “suppression” and “oppression” in the University.

The student press conference was organized by Rise for Education – España, the same network who called for the OSA director’s termination at the Arch of the Centuries.  – J. L. Vicente


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