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New central board officers to push for students’ code, other pro-student policies

The students’ code, originally called the “Magna Carta for Students,” has been passed on from one administration to another since it was first filed in 2004 by former CSC president Xialeemar Valdeavilla.

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Student-leaders Dean Lotus Alano, Jan Therese Parcon, and Nathan Gabriel Agustin are set to lead the Central Board of Students during the next academic year. Photos grabbed from their respective Facebook pages.

 

The new officers of the University’s Central Board of Students (CB) hope to lobby for the approval of the Student’s Code and focus on student representation during their term next academic year.

CB deputy speaker Dean Lotus Alano believes that the Board should spearhead the student’s code instead of the Central Student Council (CSC).

“I believe that the approval of this should be promoted by the CB and actions like following-up with the concerned officials or offices, and having dialogue as needed be done as well,” he said in an interview with TomasinoWeb.

The CB, which is the CSC’s legislative arm, is composed of duly-elected presidents from each college, faculty, institute, and school in the University.

Nathan  Agustin, CB speaker and president of the Civil Law Student Council, said that having uniformed guidelines like the student’s code could allow for more pro-student policies.

They are made to face conditions that they never desired to experience in the first place – and if they experience setbacks due to these conditions (disconnections in important activities, failure to attend the required amount of classes, etc.), it affects their status as a student —their grades, standing, and even admission,” he told TomasinoWeb.

The students’ code, originally called the “Magna Carta for Students,” has been passed on from one administration to another since it was first filed in 2004 by former CSC president Xialeemar Valdeavilla.

Alano and Agustin is also joined by College of Rehabilitation Sciences president Jan Therese Parcon, who will work as the CB’s secretary-general.

Freedom of expression

Agustin hopes to address the struggles faced by students when it comes to freedom of expression, citing “tedious bureaucratic processes” that hinder students from speaking up.

“This becomes dangerous when it silences the student body. This becomes abhorrent when it invalidates even legitimate calls for justice and welfare,” he said.

“Therefore, as student leaders in our own councils and the Central Board, we have to continue lobbying for our freedoms – we cannot let the chilling effect extinguish our voices,” he added. (RELATED: Persecution, not activism, besets student leaders)

In August 2020,  the Office for Student Affairs (OSA) required all student organizations to submit “permission to post” forms before posting any form of content on their social media accounts.

Several students and progressive groups have blasted OSA’s measure, emphasizing its threat to the students’ freedom of speech.

“We express concern and alarm at this new guideline–concern because this might be used to curtail our freedom of expression and speech, and alarm because this is not the first time that the UST admin introduced such repressive policies. We caution the University to veer away from such policies that will only add burden to students,” League of Filipino Students-UST spokesperson Trisha Ifurung said.

Resumption of face-to-face classes for health-allied courses

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Alano and Agustin also push for the CB’s involvement in a smooth and safe transition to face-to-face classes, especially for programs that require more practical skills.

We’ve seen how the students are eager to return, however, this should be done in a manner that would prioritize the safety of all stakeholders,” Alano said.

Agustin urged the University to administer a vaccination program to make sure that the student’s transition to face-to-face classes is “well-guarded.”

“[S]tudents deserve the quality of education we applied for – and I hope that UST will also keep this in mind in deciding for the next step in the transition,” he said.

Clinical clerks from the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery started their limited face-to-face classes on June 9 after these were suspended in March due to the spike in COVID-19 cases. They were required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 before returning to campus.

Other health-allied programs such as medical technology, nursing, and physical therapy are also expected to hold limited face-to-face classes next school year.

The Commission on Higher Education said in May that they are hoping to include college students and personnel in the government’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout, which started in March.

In a survey conducted by Student Council Alliance of the Philippines (SCAP) and Students’ Rights and Welfare Philippines last year, over 1,748 people said they had difficulty understanding lessons from online classes while 1,567 struggled with online classes due to loss of internet or stable connection.  —with reports from Patricia Kahanap

Ian Patrick Laqui
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UST crisis management committee green lights F2F bacc mass and graduation rites

The in-person graduation ceremonies shall be for the Classes of 2020, 2021, and 2022 from the tertiary, post-baccalaureate, and graduate levels.

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(Photo by Gillian Robles/TomasinoWeb)

The University’s Crisis Management Committee approved the conduct of in-person graduation ceremonies, including Baccalaureate mass, a memorandum from the Office of the Secretary-General (OSG) said on Saturday, May 7.

The in-person graduation ceremonies shall be for the Classes of 2020, 2021, and 2022 from the tertiary, post-baccalaureate, and graduate levels.

Only the Class of 2022 will have in-person rites for Senior High School graduates.

Two Baccalaureate masses for the said batches will be held in June. 

According to the OSG, this year’s mass will be “solemn and austere” to express solidarity with the “plight of many people who are still recovering from the ill effects of the pandemic, Thus the traditional fireworks display at the conclusion of the mass will be scrapped this year. 

The solemn investiture shall be conducted starting June 6 either on the Quadricentennial Pavilion or the Medicine Auditorium, schedules may vary per college or faculty. 

Only two companions are allowed to be with each graduating student.

Local graduation committees shall conduct respective orientations for the said batches.

The University, however, shall “strictly abide” by the regulations of the Inter-Agency Task Force, should there be changes in the alert level status in the National Capital Region. 

Ian Patrick Laqui
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UST among top universities in 2022 SDG impact rankings

Among the Philippine universities, the University placed second in Gender Equality (SDG 5), while ranking third in Good Health and Well-being (SDG 3) and fourth in Quality Education (SDG 4).

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(Photo courtesy of Aliah Danseco/TomasinoWeb)

EDITOR’S NOTE: An earlier version of this article mentioned that the University “slipped from its third local standing last year.” We sincerely apologize for this mistake. 

The University ranked sixth among Philippine universities implementing the United Nations’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

According to the data published by the Times Higher Education’s (THE) Impact Rankings 2022 on April 29, UST placed 601-800 in the global rankings and maintained its third spot in the Philippines. 

The University also improved in its overall score. From 47.6-56.5 in 2021, it now received an overall score of 57.3-64.9 in 2022.

Among the Philippine universities, the University placed second in Gender Equality (SDG 5), while ranking third in Good Health and Well-being (SDG 3) and fourth in Quality Education (SDG 4).

Ateneo De Manila University remains the top implementer of SDGs in the country, placing 101-200 in the global rankings – the highest ranking received by any Philippine university, as per the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd).

Globally, Western Sydney University led the overall ranking this year, while Universiti Sains Malaysia led the Asian overall ranking.

The THE Impact Rankings measured 1,406 universities from 106 different countries and regions. THE carefully calibrated indicators to provide a comprehensive and balanced comparison across four broad areas: research, stewardship, outreach, and teaching. 

Justine Xyrah Rennzel Garcia
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Applicants call for transparency of USTAR results

The petition addressed to the concerns of the applicants regarding the screening, exception grades, program alignments, and grading process.

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(Photo by Rohm Bautista/TomasinoWeb)

More than a thousand applicants urged the Office for Admissions (OFAD) to disclose the procedure of the University of Santo Tomas Admission Rating (USTAR) through an online petition, as many applicants were “wondering” how they earned their scores.

The petition addressed the concerns of the applicants regarding the screening, exception grades, program alignments, and grading process. 

“The USTAR admission process is new and has many gaps; nevertheless, this should not prevent the university from disclosing the rigorous process to students, as it is their right to know,” the petition says. 

Petitioners appealed to the OFAD to address their concerns and called on the University to “integrate the values that have long been teaching to its students.” 

“If the institution is committed to its values, it should guarantee that our education serves the best interests of the students.” the petition says.

Conflicts on admission

Petitioners urged to preclude any presumed strand discrimination as a basis for getting accepted into the desired programs and display their alternative program scores for transparency.

There was also an allegation that no science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) students from UST Senior High School (UST-SHS) were qualified for any healthcare courses and Health Allied students were more prioritized.

Daniela Teñoso, a grade 12 STEM student and auditor of UST-SHS Student Council, explained that “no one” from her strand was accepted from any medical-related courses as she asked all of their blocks. 

“We were also informed that STEM students would qualify to these programs through exemption grades, that’s why we were all devastated when the results came out,” she said in an interview with TomasinoWeb.

Teñoso said that she was still glad that other STEM students from different schools were accepted but speculated why “none” from her batch was given a slot in these programs despite their achievements. 

“It was such a hard slap in the face to realize that our two years of hard work had all been for vain because our strands were deemed unfit for our desired programs,” she said.

Communication problems

Petitioners claimed that the office was “unresponsive” to emails, and only a “few” were able to make phone calls while other concerns were left unaddressed. 

Kyle Kevlar, a grade 12 student and also the external public relations officer of the UST-SHS, said that sending emails was the only way to communicate with the office since face-to-face transactions were still restricted.

“As the External Public Relations Officer of the UST-SHS Student Council, I firsthand witnessed the disappointment and stress of the students who wish to apply to the university,” in an interview with TomasinoWeb.

He added that there was a delay or that many applicants were unable to get the reference numbers that are used in their USTAR applications.

Lance Alo, a grade 12 UST-SHS STEM student who took part in initiating the petition, stated that other applications were not processed due to missing requirements that were only notified at the last minute or not at all. 

“This made us realize that the problem is systemic, and addressing it at the individual level will only exhaust all of us hence, why we launched the petition,” he said in an interview.

The petition suggested having an information system to notify students of deficiencies in requirements and also having a help desk for clarification and questions about the results and application of the USTAR.

Seek for resolutions

Alo affirmed the importance of resolving the gaps or concerns in the USTAR as he said that it could “help to ease the anxieties and disappointments faced by the students” and be an example to other institutions by being pro-student. 

“It can also serve as an inspiration to students all around the country since making their voices heard and acting collectively can go a long way,” Alo said.

He said that alongside other petitioners and student leaders, they also appeal for a dialogue with the office to clarify things further.

“We are ready to explain, organize, and fight for our fellow students,” Alo said

Teñoso said that the issues were not only a concern of their strand but also applicants that were denied being admitted to programs that were “clearly” aligned with their strands.

“Everything was so disheartening, and I’m looking forward to hearing what the administration has to say.”

The UST Entrance Exam (USTET) was waived for the second straight year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Hence, the score for USTAR is derived from a developed set of algorithms to assess the academic performance and records of the applicants. 

OFAD released the USTAR results via its portal on March 31.

TomasinoWeb reached out to OFAD through email about this matter but the office has yet to respond.

Marjorie Lumapas
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