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No ‘abstain’ in upcoming CSC elections; students develop new electronic voting system

In a press conference on Thursday, Central Commission on Elections Medicine Commissioner Ivan Pulanco elaborated that they have removed “abstain” in the new system developed by Computer Science students, but voters could leave their ballots unanswered.

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Photo by JC Alvero/TomasinoWeb.

(UPDATED March 10, 1:10 a.m.) There would be no “abstain” option in the upcoming Central Student Council (CSC) elections as the polls switch back to an electronic voting system developed by the University’s Computer Science students.

In a press conference on Thursday, Central Commission on Elections (Comelec) Medicine Commissioner Ivan Pulanco elaborated that they have removed the option—which won the CSC posts for president, vice president, auditor and treasurer in the last elections—but voters could leave their ballots unanswered.

“Unanswered means unanswered. That is our official stance. We are following the procedures conducted by the local elections in the Philippines for voters are allowed to leave positions blank and we don’t feel that it is proper to compel a student vote for an individual… So it’s not abstain, its unanswered,” Pulanco said.

This move is in accordance with the order of the Central Judiciary Board last year, which stated that including “abstain” in the ballots was a violation of Article X Section 5 of the UST Student’s Election Code of 2011 as ballots should only contain “the printed names of candidates, their positions and their parties , a box before each candidate’s name, serial number and the instructions” with no mention of an “abstain” option.

 

Thomasians develop new voting system

The Computer Science Society (CSS), in partnership with Comelec and the UST e-Service Providers (STEPS), developed the Evosys system, the very first electronic voting system developed by Thomasian students which they said would ensure fast, reliable, accurate and secured canvassing of votes through the use of the University’s local servers provided by STEPS.

“For this upcoming elections,  we will be hosting it with STEPS [with their] local servers…. It’s intranet, [meaning] within the internet of UST, so transferring of data will be fast,” CSS President John Regalado told reporters.

The elections last year became manual after the proclamation of elected officers in the 2016 CSC elections were delayed due to technical glitches with the Blackboard e-Learning Access Program, where the polls were hosted.

Evosys Project Manager Angel Luis Santos said the system would be more reliable than manual voting since “it requires a login to access the system and it automates the canvassing of votes” and that “the counting will be done by the system.”

Comelec Vice Chairman and Evosys Project Head Mely Cherrylyne Cruz said that Comelec, Potato Codes, an organization of Thomasian developers, and the Office for Student Affairs (OSA) decided it would be best that CSS would develop the system.

“There is no other competition… outside UST. [Developers outside the campus] cannot develop the software for UST because that would bring about concerns on outside influence, etc. This is why we chose specifically and only CSS,” Cruz added.

Santos also ensured the election’s security, saying that the system “underwent rigorous testing from developers and some faculty members of the Computer Science department.” She also said the system is secure from hacking since votes can only be accessed within UST’s local servers.

 

Security, technical concerns

Santos demonstrated the new voting process, which involves verification of voters by assigned deputies, the actual voting of students, submission of all votes and upon completion, and the acquisition of reference numbers as proof that a student has finished the entire voting process.

While students would be using their student numbers as theirs username in voting, Comelec Chairman Arvin Bersonda said that the password would be unique in every voting session and that it would come from verifiers.

“Malalaman lang namin yung password nila on the day that they will vote, on the day they were verified as a Thomasian voter kasi we have verifiers, sila yung mag-eencode and ‘dun palang nila makukuha yung access code nila sa elections upon entry sa [computer laboratory],” he added.

Bersonda said that if computer units crash during the voting period, the system would only process finished and submitted ballots so that students could still resume voting.

To accommodate all voters,  there would be an allotted time for every individual to vote, according to Allan Theo Hernandez, OSA’s staff for student activities.

University-wide mock elections held to earlier today to test the system. The filing of the certificates of candidacy would be on March 21; elections are set to be held in April .—B. Laforga

EDITOR’S NOTE: Dates regarding the exact schedule of elections and proclamation of officers were removed due to disputing claims from officers of Comelec.

 

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Expect a more critical, careful Salinggawi with ‘OneFORESTpaña,’ coach tells

Mark Chaiwalla, the head coach and an alumnus of Salinggawi, assured the Thomasian community that the troupe is now more careful and critical, especially being half a point shy from being a podium finisher last year. 

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Photo by Alec Go

In this year’s UAAP Cheerdance Competition, the University’s Salinggawi Dance Troupe is set to enchant with their nature and magical theme, Salinggawi coach said. 

Mark Chaiwalla, the head coach and an alumnus of Salinggawi, assured the Thomasian community that the troupe is now more careful and critical, especially being half a point shy from being a podium finisher last year. 

“How they took it last year parang they are more careful and they are more critical with what they are doing this year,” Chaiwalla expressed in an exclusive interview with TomasinoWeb

He added: “Whether we land on the podium or not they are always […] motivated naman. They do not lose the motivation depending on where they would land on from the previous year.”

Mark Chaiwalla, UST Salinggawi head coach | Larizza Lucas/TomasinoWeb

In dealing with pressure and expectations, however, Chaiwalla said that those “[are] always there, what we do is just to remind ourselves to always do our best.”

He also clarified that it’s not the pressure and expectations that would push them to do the yearly competition, but the primary goal is “to always serve the Thomasian community.”

As for the theme for this year’s competition, Chaiwalla admitted that initially, the theme was supposed to focus on the teaser that Salinggawi released on Twitter; hinting that it would be a Lady Gaga theme, continuing the Beyonce stunt last competition.  

However, they decided to pick another theme wherein they could use the fortes of the coaches, specifically the dance coach. 

“We chose a theme kung saan mailalabas talaga nung dance coach yung strength niya. Yung theme kasi mas maapektuhan niya ‘yung sayaw rather than the cheer element, so we chose a theme wherein our dance coach would really use his strength that’s why we chose this theme,” Chaiwalla added. 

The idea for this year’s Cheerdance Competition would be enchanted. “There’s a touch of magical feeling and it’s very related to nature,” he said. with reports from Sam Magbuhat.

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UST remains sixth top school in November 2019 civil eng’g boards

The University remained as the sixth top-performing school for the second straight year in the November 2019 civil engineering licensure examinations. 

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The University remained as the sixth top-performing school for the second straight year in the November 2019 civil engineering licensure examinations. 

The University posted 81.86 percent passing rate or 176 out of 215 examinees passing the exams. 

This was a bit higher from last year’s score of 81.04 percent or 171 out of 221 examinees.

No Thomasians entered the topnotchers in this year’s exams.

Lou Mervin Tristan Mahilum of the University of San Carlos took the top spot with a rating of 93.25 percent.

Carlosa A. Hilado Memorial State College-Talisay was hailed as this year’s top-performing school after scoring 98 percent or 48 out of 50 examinees.

Meanwhile, the national passing rate declined to 43.18 percent or 6,510 out of 15,075 exam takers from 45.09 percent, or 6,262 out of 13,887 examinees in the last year’s exams.  

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‘Sexual violence is display of power, rooted from injustice’

Thomasian feminist scholars asserted that sexual violence is a “matter of making [a] person powerless so [one] can feel powerful” and is deeply rooted from perceived injustice of earlier sexual abuse during the “Say No: A Talk on Consent and Violence Against Women” held at the Central Laboratory Auditorium yesterday, Nov. 6.

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Photo by Schiatzi Lonzanida/TomasinoWeb

Thomasian feminist scholars asserted that sexual violence is a “matter of making [a] person powerless so [one] can feel powerful” and is deeply rooted from perceived injustice of earlier sexual abuse.

Asst. Prof. Rhodora Lynn Lintag-Tababa, a sociology professor from the Faculty of Arts and Letters, said during her talk about gender-based violence that sexual violence results from the idea of a person being more powerful and has more advantage than others during the “Say No: A Talk on Consent and Violence Against Women” held at the Central Laboratory Auditorium yesterday, Nov. 6.

“[This] violence is coming from the idea that in the first place, ‘I believe I am more powerful. I have more advantage over you,’ so some people have the tendency to really discriminate and undermine other people and practice their power, and therefore can result to harassment and violence,” according to Lintag-Tababa.

Lintag-Tababa said that the explanation as to why sexual harassment is rampant up to this time is because “personal is political.”

“’Away mag-asawa ‘yan. LQ ng mag-jowa ‘yan. Wala tayong pakialam diyan because that’s personal,’… That is being used by the society [to not] actually look into the matters of the women who are being abused,” she said. “Because it is something personal.”

Women’s issues and concerns, according to her, are often disregarded, treated as petty or irrelevant, and considered as a personal matter in which no one should interfere.

Lintag-Tababa mentioned American sociologist C. Wright Mills’ concept of sociological imagination which identifies the personal as a reflection of something greater or wider political issues.

“The personal should be political. That is the cry. That is the statement. That should be the slogan that should empower women,” she said.

Matter of sexual control

“Rape is a legal term [and] not a medical entity. It is a crime of violence. […] Rapists use sexual violence to dominate and degrade their victims and to express their own anger,” Asst. Prof. Ma. Georgina Manzano of College of Nursing said.

According to Manzano, rape is perpetrated not because of the sexual urge but because when a person’s self esteem is threatened, he or she projects the feeling of being helpless and powerless to the victim.

“It is an issue of having power and control…It is not about having sexual urge towards the person [who is] wearing bikini. [It is when a] person sees the woman as a vulnerable individual. He might take over the ability of [the woman] to fight or protect herself,” she said during the open forum.

“The abuser or the rapist may have [had] some childhood experiences that could have triggered this kind of aggression towards another person,” she added.

Photo by Schiatzi Lonzanida/TomasinoWeb

Manzano emphasized that in social media, when men see pictures of women in revealing clothes, the initial reaction is not to have control over the latter through force or threat but is attributed to the Philippine culture in which women are expected to wear Maria Clara clothes.

“It starts with you, and it will end with you,” Tababa said. “Violence starts with you, especially if you are not aware that you are actually harassing or doing something that is already promoting violence against women […] It will also end with you if you will do something about it.”

The event “Say No: A Talk on Consent and Violence Against Women” was organized by the Thomasian Debaters Council, in partnership with UST Hiraya, Fotomasino, Tiger Media Network, and TomasinoWeb.

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