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Thomasians take part in gift giving with Lumads

Around 200 Thomasians immersed with the Lumads in a solidarity program as part of the “Dialogue of Life” organized by the Rotaract Club-Pharmacy Unit at the Baclaran Church on Sunday, Nov. 15.

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Around 200 Thomasians immersed with the Lumads in a solidarity program as part of the “Dialogue of Life” organized by the Rotaract Club-Pharmacy Unit at the Baclaran Church on Sunday, Nov. 15.

Entitled “”Dialogue of Life: Our Continuing Journey with the Anawim, A Gift Giving” students and professors of the University engaged in discussions on issues the Lumads are currently facing, took part in workshops and gave school packs and hygiene kits as donations for the children.

“Yung presensya niyo [Thomasians] ay malaking tulong sa layunin namin na mapalaganap ang nangyayari sa amin,” said Dulphing Ogan, Secretary General of Kusog Sa Katawang Lumad sa Mindanao (KALUMARAN).

The Lumads are composed of 18 tribes in Mindanao who are currently facing abuse and violence, held the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) accountable for the said acts. On October 26, about 800 Lumads arrived in Manila to air their grievances to the government.

The Lumads started to camp out in Baclaran Church after being invited by the Redemptorist priests and brothers since Nov. 13 after their permit to stay in Liwasang Bonifacio was shortened from Nov. 22  to Nov. 12 in time with the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leader’s Meeting.

Fr. Joey Echano, CSsR of the National Shrine of Mother of Perpetual Help, mentioned during the press conference that the Church welcomed the said indigenous people after they moved out from Liwasang Bonifacio.

“Ang simbahan ay bukas sa sino mang nais makituloy. Lalo na ang mga biktima ng karahasan at pang-aapi,” he said.

Seeking help

Ogan reiterated in his opening remarks the Lumads’ demand to cease militarization and abuses in their communities which they have been suffering since the 90’s due to the misconception that they are producing rebels.

Last September, the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (ALCADEV) was said to be burned down by the military or in some accounts, the Magahat-Bagani paramilitary group who were said to have killed the Lumad leaders Dionel Campos and Datu Juvello Sinzo, and ALCADEV school director Emerito Samarca.

The issue of Lumad also attracted international organizations such as the International League of People’s Struggles (ILPS). Lyn Meza from the International Coordinating Committee of ILPS said “Your struggle is also our struggle.”

Dialogue of Life

Zarina Rivera, the President of the Rotaract Club- Pharmacy Unit and the project head of the event, said in an interview with TomasinoWeb that the special attention needed for the issue of the Lumad people motivated her to spearhead the program.

“Ang atensyon ay laging nasa Syrian refugees, bakit walang atensyon sa mga Lumad?” she said.

For College of Commerce and Business Administration Student Council Vice President Lorenzo Tañada,  who found the event to be an “eye-opener” said that he only understood the Lumad’s struggle through the dialogue.

Meanwhile, Athena Mondido of Student Alliance for the Advancement of Democratic Rights in University of Santo Tomas (STAND-UST) considers the event as the only way for students to help the Lumad and consider them as a family.

Dialogue of Life started its series of programs this month with a photo exhibit and last November 6, a cultural presentation and advocacy forum was held at the Benavides Auditorium.

Present in the gift-giving were UST Simbahayan and Rural Missionaries of the Philippines, Rotaract Club of UST – Central Chapter, Community Achievers Association – Pharmacy Unit, Community Achievers Association – Central, UST UNICEF Volunteers, UNESCO UST, Theatre Catalyst, and Becarios de Santo Tomas.

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CSC pushes for online class suspension amid UST guidelines

The Central Board recommended the use of online modules like “handouts, video tutorials, and pre-recorded lectures” which the students can use during the break.

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Carmina Beatriz Dizon/TomasinoWeb

Eight days after Metro Manila was put under a “community quarantine,” the UST Central Student Council (CSC) Central Board pushed for the suspension of online classes until April 14, 2020 amid the University’s alternative teaching-learning guidelines.  

To make most of the month-long class suspension due to the community quarantine which was later heightened by the government, online classes were introduced to carry on with the semester.

CSC President Robert Dominic Gonzales, however, stressed the differences in the resources of the students to support their online classes.

Students continue to face challenges in complying to these online activities due to factors like internet stability and lack of gadgets like computers and laptops.

A survey was conducted among local colleges to monitor the concerns and statuses of the Thomasian community.

For instance, in the College of Commerce and Business Administration and College of Tourism and Hospitality Management, more than half of the students of each college have no stable internet connection.

The Board recommended the use of online modules like “handouts, video tutorials, and pre-recorded lectures” which the students can use during the break.

Focusing on other matters

In light of the pandemic, Gonzales emphasized the need for the psychological and mental health of the community to be focused on, which is not only limited to the students.

The well-being of the faculty members, non-academic personnel, and the administration is a matter of priority as well in this time of crisis.

Gonzales is with high hopes to the administration’s approval of CSC’s appeal.

“I am sure that the administration listens to our concerns, most especially during these crucial times,” Gonzales said.

He also expressed his gratitude to the backbone of the University amid this health-related crisis.

“[W]e also give utmost gratitude and salute to them for all the efforts that they have exhausted to ensure a holistic approach on the well-being of the Thomasian community,” he added.

When asked if it is most likely to extend the second semester if the administration approves the appeal, Gonzales said that: “The decisions regarding the academic calendar and special terms are to be determined by the administration.”

However, the Board alongside local colleges are “much willing to provide help and support” the endeavors of the University by seeking suggestions from the student body.

 

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UST shifts to self-paced instruction amid quarantine period

The University’s updated Collective Institutional Guidelines on COVID-19 notes that the current state of calamity and quarantine regulations limit the capacity of students and faculty members to participate in regularly scheduled online classes.

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Jacqueline Martinez/TomasinoWeb

[UPDATED] The University will now implement a self-paced instruction amid the quarantine period in Luzon

In the University’s updated Collective Institutional Guidelines on COVID-19 released on March 20, “[r]egularly scheduled daily online classes shall no longer be required” for both students and faculty members.

The updated guidelines notes that the current state of calamity and quarantine regulations limit the capacity of students and faculty members to participate in regularly scheduled online classes.

Faculty members shall still continue providing learning materials which includes video lectures, readings and discussion sessions for students’ self-paced instruction in preparation for formal instruction once classes resume.

Academic unit heads will also determine which examinations or alternative assessments will be held online, or will require in-campus conduct once classes resume.

ADVISORYIn view of the enhanced community quarantine, we advise all Thomasians to heed the government’s mandate to…

University of Santo Tomasさんの投稿 2020年3月20日金曜日

Preliminary and final examinations may still be be integrated depending on the academic units “provided that there were enough student assessments aside from final examinations.” Students must also be informed of the changes in the grading system of affected courses.

The Office of the Vice-Rector for Research and Innovation also suspended all in-campus and off-campus research data gathering, as well as research-related local and international travels. Researchers were advised to do alternative activities.

Meanwhile, the schedule of moving-up ceremonies and commencement exercises will be determined once classes resume and academic calendar has been finalized.

Last March 13, the Office of the Secretary-General suspended the online classes from March 13-14 to give way for personal and family concerns.

Online classes from March 17 to 21 were also cancelled to “allow faculty members and students to attend to personal and family concerns,” “give faculty members time to revisit their course plans,” and “allow students to attend to pending tasks and submissions that were given in the past week.”

President Rodrigo Duterte placed the National Capital Region on a community quarantine from March 15 to April 14, with regular class suspensions in the region extended until April 14.

The code alert system for COVID-19 was raised to code red alert sub-level 2 which indicates evidence of community transmission.

All land, domestic air, and domestic water transportation to and from Metro Manila were barred, and only workers coming from nearby provinces were allowed to enter Metro Manila. Mass gatherings were also prohibited.

As of March 20, the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the country is now at 230, with 18 fatalities.

On support staff, faculty evaluation, and admission process

Work for all staff shall “remain suspended until further notice” including skeletal workforce arrangement. Only selected on-site workers were allowed to perform work, according to the University’s Human Resource Department memorandum. 

Social distancing should also be observed during the work and all staff are “enjoined to observe work from home arrangement […] to maintain productivity.”

University admission activities for A.Y. 2020-2021 (reservation, confirmation, and enrollment) shall be scheduled once the classes resume. 

Academic units shall also coordinate with the Office of Admissions “to release the appropriate announcements to their respective applicants”.

Meanwhile, the faculty competence evaluation for the second semester will be scheduled once classes resume. It was encouraged “to provide qualitative comments” in the faculty evaluation to highlight their strengths, and help them [address] areas of improvement amid the regular class disruptions. A. Basa with report from J. A. Pangilinan

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CSC president clarifies University hair policies

Robert Dominic Gonzales, the incumbent CSC president, noted the vagueness of the provision in the student guidelines, hence the decision of the administration to clarify the said rule.

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Veronica Besario/TomasinoWeb

After garnering varied reactions from students, the University’s Central Student Council (CSC) president explained the clarification of guidelines regarding hair color and hair cut.

Robert Dominic Gonzales, the incumbent CSC president, noted the vagueness of the provision in the student guidelines, hence the decision of the administration to clarify the said rule.

“Nakalagay lang kasi dito ‘students’ hairstyle should be clean, combed and neatly trimmed or fixed. Unconventional hair colors are not permitted,’” Gonzales said quoting from the student’s handbook.

It was the clamor from the students and college deans alike that they sought to draw the line between conventional and unconventional hair colors.

“Basically, there were a lot of clamors from the past few years regarding sa portion dito about unconventional hair colors. So this year they sought to clarify the matters kung ano ba talaga ang tinutukoy na unconventional,” Gonzales expressed.

He reiterated: “When this handbook was released, they did not post any color palette or color shades of those unconventional hair colors.”

He also emphasized that the decision came from the college deans themselves, elaborating: “Majority if I’m not mistaken of the deans voted for the conventional hair colors which was released recently. Yung mga darkest black to darkest brown.”

When asked whether he’s for or against the said policy, Gonzales stated that such rule has no relationship with the students’s academic standing.

“With regards naman if we’re pro or against it, of course, personally speaking, it’s about personally expressing yourself ganoon I’m against the hair policy,” he said.
He further added, “For me, it has no direct relationship whatsoever with the academic performance ng tao.”

Students’ reactions

Meanwhile, this implementation of policy gained varied responses and backlash among the students of the University.

For a student from College of Science, it has been a matter of students subjecting themselves in following institutional guidelines upon enrolling to the university.

“Kasi like kahit ako, I want to color my hair din pero kasi at the same time sinabi ko na sa sarili ko na UST ‘to alam kong medyo hindi nila bet ‘yun, so kumbaga I mentally prepared myself for it like ‘di na ako nag-expect masyado from them,” the student stated.

However, Arts and Letters student Gwen Forones questioned the implementation of the policy, saying “[I don’t know] what are they trying to prove in implementing similar cases just like this when in fact hair color does not hinder academic standing and competence.”

She further added: “[H]indi ba sa panahon ngayon, it is more reliable to pay attention on building students’ drive and character rather than nitpicking their appearances.”

Forones also took a swipe on the conflicted priorities of the system, saying “[O]ur education system seems to be persistent in promoting personal growth.”
She elaborated, “and yet they keep on implementing a policy which restrains the students’ rights to express themselves without causing any harm.”

On a circular dated Feb. 19, the Office of the Secretary-General released a clarificatory announcement regarding acceptable hair style and colors to its students.

According to the guideline addressed to the University administrators, students must be limited to the prescribed spectrum of colors from Level 1 (darkest black) to Level 5 (dark brown).

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