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Nartates assures open ears to students, defends CSC from critics

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The Central Student Council (CSC) and local student councils are open to hear complaints directly from students, said CSC President Janela Love Nartates in her State of the Council Address at the Thomas Aquinas Research Complex on Saturday, Feb. 11.

“Ipinapangako po namin, basta nasa tama at estudyante ka ng UST, ipaglalaban kita kapalit man ang posisyon ko,” said Nartates, after saying that they cherish critics of the CSC.

Nartates added that they aim to “build a council that will genuinely address the concern of every student and lead a council which will portray a more responsible student leadership.”

The CSC had been under fire since late 2016 for their actions on the burial of former President Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani and their apparent mishandling of the Paskuhan concert.

The criticisms continued into 2017 when the CSC remained silent regarding the alleged victim blaming of a College of Fine Arts and Design (CFAD) student. When they broke their silence a few days after the issue broke out, they were accused of plagiarizing their statement from The Political Science Forum (TPSF).

CSC forgives Marcoses

Nartates said in her speech that the CSC has forgiven former dictator Marcos, whose regime saw hundreds of human rights violations.

But she added that there is a big difference between forgiving and forgetting.

“But as a part of the royal and pontifical Catholic University and as seekers and defenders of truth, we will never forget the atrocities during the Martial Law,” she said.

The CSC was hit after it chose not to participate in demonstrations against the burial of Marcos at the LNMB while students from the University of the Philippines, Ateneo de Manila University and De La Salle University protested.

The University administration remained mum on the burial. No officials from UST were present during the Nov. 30 protest on Edsa which saw the heads of UP, Ateneo and La Salle come up onstage in solidarity with protesters.

Nartates previously defended their absence from the protests, arguing that they were looking after the students’ safety.

However, the CSC released a statement condemning the burial and held a candlelight vigil in campus. The council also distributed black ribbons for students to wear in protest of the burial.

Nartates pointed out in her SOCA that the CSC spearheaded a seminar on Martial Law titled “Honor Thy President?”.

Paskuhan flubs

Nartates said that they did all they can to make Paskuhan fun for students.

“Ipinaglaban po namin na sa Grandstand ganapin ang concert pero mataas talaga ang risk ng pag-ulan. Ipinaglaban din po namin na ma-extend ang concert, but as student leaders, we have to take into consideration the safety of the students,” she said.

The CSC and the Student Organizations Coordinating Council was criticized for allegedly mishandling this academic year’s Paskuhan after some members of the bands who were invited to perform took to social media to complain about their sets being cut short.

Paskuhan director Faye Martel Abungan previously apologized in a statement and saidd that the set cuts were “a necessary tactic to meet the conditions given by the administration.”

“Let us appreciate and commend the people who worked so hard to give the best Paskuhan ever,” said Nartates.

‘Due process prevents CSC from interfering’

The CSC could not interfere with cases involving students according to the process detailed in the Student Handbook, said Nartates.

“Sana next time kapag may hearing, magkaroon ng representative from Central Student Council para masigurado na nare-represent ‘yung students. Due process talaga,” Nartates told TomasinoWeb.”

“We tried to reach out to the administrators to ask what we can do. However, they were the ones that told us they cannot disclose any information regarding what’s happening,” she added.

She added that they wrote a letter to University Rector Rev. Fr. Herminio Dagohoy for them to be included in hearings concerning disciplinary actions for students.

“Ang Central Student Council, we are for the students. Ayun nga po hindi nga po kami makapag-interfere sa mga administrators when ganon na po yung mga case,” she said.

The council was slammed online for their alleged inaction on the reportedly victim blamed CFAD student.

But Nartates said that they immediately reached out to the brother of the student, Geo Celestino. Celestino previously told TomasinoWeb that he was contacted by some members of the CSC, CFADSC and the Faculty of Engineering Student Council.

Nartates said that they are in touch with both parties “to make sure they are being protected.”

She added that the CSC has upcoming projects like #MillenialGoals which will tackle abuse and harassment.

No plagiarism

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Nartates is firm that they did not plagiarize their statement on sexual harassment, belying allegations from The Political Science Forum (TPSF).

“[A]s one of the people na gumawa ng statement, we make sure before namin i-post ‘yun, ayun talaga ‘yung stand namin. Hindi po namin alam na nag-post ‘yung TPSF,” she told TomasinoWeb.

“And saka bakit naman iibahin ‘yung stand. There’s a difference between similarities and plagiarism. Siguro ‘yung thought pareho, syempre stand ‘yun eh. It’s yes or no. Tapos parehas kami dito. Same side lang kami at ayun ‘yung gusto namin sabihin.”

‘Admin listening’ on Students’ Code

The Students’ Code has been languishing in the hands of the CSC and the administration for over a decade.

“Hindi pa siya napapasa. Dahan-dahan ‘yung Students’ Code nire-review ng admin. Nakikinig sila, binabasa nila,” Nartates said.

She said that the Central Board of Students is reviewing the Students’ Code and is revising and omitting sections.

“[M]eron na doon na pina-practice na ng UST like the evaluation. Dati ‘yung mga tenured hindi nae-evaluate ng students,” she said.

Events organized

Nartates flaunted in her SOCA the different programs and events that the CSC organized.

She discussed Tiger Oasis, a project in partnership with the UST Simbahayan Community Development Office, which aims to address environmental issues, spread awareness and obtain feasible solutions.

The CSC also held the annual financial transparency symposium titled Diamonds in partnership with the SOCC, Alfredo M. Velayo – College of Accountancy Student Council and the Junior Philippine Institute of Accountants.

The council launched Humans of UST, a photo exhibit of members of the Thomasian community, to promote empathy within the “Thomasian community, as well as empower them.”

The CSC has also published its financial report in a document titled Veritas.

“Part of our agenda ay patunayan na hindi kami puro pangako ng monthly report, financial responsibility, accountability at transparency,” Nartates said in her SOCA. The CSC has only released one financial report this academic year.

Nartates also showed that the CSC’s Facebook page saw a 300% increase during her term, climbing to 78,000 likes from 55,000 likes.

She also said that they “entered 588,000 followers on Twitter.” The official Twitter account of the CSC has only around 7,500 followers.

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CSC welcomes interim officers

The University of Santo Tomas Central Student Council (UST-CSC) announced on Sunday, Sept. 13, the new set of interim officers in Central Board for the academic year (AY) 2020-2021.

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Photo courtesy of Hector Armando Sarion, Carl Christian Lumberio, and Montgomery Alexander Tan

The University of Santo Tomas Central Student Council (UST-CSC) announced on Sunday, Sept. 13, the new set of interim officers in the Central Board for the academic year (AY) 2020-2021.

CSC acknowledged three new faces in provisionally handling the position of the Speaker, Deputy Speaker, and Secretary-General.

On May 21, The University’s Commision on Elections postponed both local and central student council elections for the AY 2020-2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Their resolution declared all non-graduating incumbent officers as interim officers until elections are rescheduled. 

Hector Armando Sarion from the College of Education Student Council was elected as the Interim Speaker, Carl Christian Lumberio from the College of Commerce and Business Administration Student Council as the Interim Deputy Speaker, and Montgomery Alexander Tan from the Accountancy Student Council as the Secretary-General.

In an interview with TomasinoWeb, Sarion said that one of the challenges he expects during his term as the Interim Speaker is the gap that online classes create for the Thomasian students.

“[I]t’s not just a matter of internet connectivity, but also the inclusivity and accommodation of the diverse learners in our university. It’s the main call that we leave no student left behind,” Sarion said.

Sarion also said that the new CSC will continue the projects concerning the University’s Student Code.

“[W]e would always do our very best on having updates from the officials and progress back from the past academic year wherein we had meetings concerning the students’ code,” Sarion stated.

In addressing the challenges of online classes, Lumberio said that the approach must be “get and about,” in which the officials would engage with the student body and take the time to assess issues and problems.

“The key lies in making a more conscious effort to be present, that there is someone who will be pertinacious in standing firm in upholding and protecting the rights and welfare of the whole Thomasian Community,” Lumberio told TomasinoWeb.

For Tan, prompt assistance to every student is one of his leadership agendas.

“One of my plans for our term is the ‘Students’ Help Desk.’ Based on my observation, a lot of students are having a hard time reaching the different UST offices for their urgent concerns,” Tan said.

According to Tan, he wants the students to feel his leadership despite the pandemic.

“It has always been my motto that ‘actions speak louder than words.’ I will not promise empty words but rather bring about results that will eventually benefit the whole community,” Tan said. “Therefore, I want the studentry to feel my leadership through my actions and results.”

Sarion, Lomberio, and Tan succeeded Lady Freyja Gascon, Lorenzo Gabriel Banayo, and Sean Matthew Sison respectively.

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Student organizations slam Pemberton pardon

Three University student organizations expressed their dissent over President Duterte’s Sept. 7 decision granting U.S Marine Lance Cpl. Joseph Scott Pemberton absolute pardon. 

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Carmina Beatriz Dizon/TomasinoWeb

Three University student organizations expressed their dissent over President Duterte’s Sept. 7 decision granting U.S Marine Lance Cpl. Joseph Scott Pemberton absolute pardon. 

“We strongly condemn the absolute pardon granted by the president as it is a clear depiction of the selective justice in the Philippines, which has little to no regard for human rights,” UST Hiraya’s Sept. 9 statement read. 

UST Hirayaさんの投稿 2020年9月9日水曜日

On Oct. 11, 2014 Jennifer Laude was found dead naked on the floor of a comfort room in Celzone Lodge. Her autopsy report indicated that she died due to “asphyxia by drowning.” 

Pemberton served less than six years in prison after being convicted of homicide in December 2015. He was originally sentenced to six to 12 years in prison which was reduced to 10 years in 2016. 

“Pemberton must be jailed in New Bilibid Prison to serve his rightful sentence,” League of Filipino Students (LFS) – UST said on Twitter.

Pemberton’s release was ordered by Judge Roline Ginez-Jabalde. She ruled that the American serviceman has served his maximum jail term with good conduct and time allowance credits. 

“No amount of good conduct will be enough to redeem Pemberton’s gruesome murder of Laude six years ago, and this act of cowardice by the administration screams injustice not only to the Laude family, but also to the LGBTQ+ community,” TomasinoWeb’s statement read. 

Both LFS – UST and TomasinoWeb echoed that Pemberton’s release is a “disregard towards basic human rights.”

A call for safe spaces

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According to Hiraya, Pemberton’s absolute pardon is a “repulsive manifestation” of the country’s disregard for human human and transgender rights. 

“[S]etting a murderer free would only reinforce the systemic discrimination and violence pervasive in our country,” Hiraya said. 

Hiraya highlighted the need for a strengthened law that will protect Filipinos from crimes and violence based on gender convictions. 

They also stressed that this is the “high time to champion” safe spaces for all through legislative and judiciary measures.

The government confirmed yesterday, Sept.11, that Pemberton was already undergoing the process of deportation to the United States. Jose Ama Rosario 

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SHS code of conduct bans recording of online classes

“Video or audio recording of the virtual activity using any type of gadgets or taking any screenshots, photos, audio of class activities without permission from participants is prohibited,” the conforme reads. 

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Gwen Dungao/TomasinoWeb

The Senior High School Department of the University released a Code of Conduct banning the sharing of video lectures without permission from the participants during online classes. 

“Video or audio recording of the virtual activity using any type of gadgets or taking any screenshots, photos, audio of class activities without permission from participants is prohibited,” the conforme reads. 

According to the memo, video recording of lectures may be done with the permission of the teacher for the sole purpose of learning, and such recording cannot be shared to students outside the class. 

The memo also forbids the students from publicly posting photos, videos, and audio recording of activities on social media without prior approval from all the participants. 

Last Sept. 2, a video circulating on social media showed a professor lecturing a student about rape and embracing her father as “a gift from God” despite raping and assaulting her. 

In separate incidents, a viral post also revealed a professor asking students why they enrolled when they’re having connectivity issues in the first place, while another one exposed a teacher berating a student due to delayed response

CSC backs complaints

Central Student Council President Robert Gonzales assured the Thomasian community on Sept. 3 that they are taking necessary steps to address and assist the issue of the circulating video online. 

To give an update, we (together with the class officers, local student councils, & societies) are currently taking action and assisting the involved sections in filing formal complaints,” Gonzales said on Twitter. 

He reminded everyone to be “prudent” in sharing materials online and that the best way to proceed in case such things happen is by filing formal complaints.

“I understand the frustrations brought upon by the different scenarios but let us also be prudent when it comes to posting/publicly sharing these videos so as to avoid repercussions on our end. It is still best for us to proceed with the proper avenues of filing complaints,” Gonzales said.

Gonzales urged both students and teachers alike that “extending compassion is a must when it comes to online classes.”

He also reiterated that student councils and department societies are ready to help on issues regarding online classes.

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