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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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UST Tiger Radio bags award in int’l college radio competition

The radio broadcasting arm of the University wins Best Audience in the 11th edition of World College Radio where 24 college radio stations from across the world participated.

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Photo courtesy of UST Tiger Radio

The University’s radio broadcasting station, UST Tiger Radio, was recognized in the 2021 World College Radio, a competition based in the United States.

The College Radio Foundation on Tuesday, Nov. 23, named the station, the lone representative of the Philippines, for having the Best Audience in the 24-hour global marathon of the World College Radio.

Now on its 11th cycle, the event saw 24 college radios across the world, from Asia and Europe to Latin America. With the theme, “In Tough Times, We Thrive,” the event highlighted the global efforts made by university radio stations to keep their production alive amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tiger Radio’s theme for this year was #USTResilientRadio, which showcased the station’s measures in treading on and adapting to the so-called “new normal” in radio production.

Eric Galang, the MOR station head and an alumnus of the Faculty of Arts and Letters’ Communication program, was the special guest for Tiger Radio’s Off-Air segment. There, he talked about radio and the impact it made on his life.

Other college radio stations recognized were England’s Surf Radio for Best Music Selection, Best Programming, and Best Overall Effort; USA’s WMSC 90.3 for Best Audio Production; Colombia’s Estación for Best Promotional Effort; and Sweden’s K103 Gothenburg Student Radio for Best Use of Theme.

Founded in 2010, the College Radio Foundation has been holding the World College Radio competition, which gathers international radio stations across the globe to share their best practices in production.

Paolo Alejandrino is a marketing content strategist for UST Tiger Media Network.

Paolo Alejandrino
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UST to expand F2F classes for certain programs

UST is eyeing to submit their applications for the resumption of limited in-person classes in proposed academic programs before December upon the approval of the University Crisis Management Committee.

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Jacqueline Martinez/TomasinoWeb

The University will be expanding in-person classes to other programs where the intended learning outcomes cannot be fully achieved with Enriched Virtual Mode of instruction (EVM), Vice-Rector for Academic Affairs Cheryl Peralta and secretary general Fr. Louie Coronel, O.P. said in a joint statement.

According to them, UST is eyeing to submit their applications for the resumption of limited in-person classes in proposed academic programs before December upon the approval of the University Crisis Management Committee (UCMC).

“These will mainly be skills-based courses that require in-person instruction. We will likewise determine which year levels and courses will be prioritized per program to progressively increase the number of students and academic staff who will enter the campus at any given time,” they said.

“As soon as the proposals of academic units are approved by the UCMC, the retrofitted facilities are ready for visit, and the documentary requirements have been completed by the academic units, we can submit their applications even before December as was relayed during the town hall meeting with CHED,” the statement said.

This is in line with the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases’ approval of  Resolution 148-G. This entails the Commission on Higher Education’s proposed phased implementation of limited face-to-face (LFTF) classes for all programs under Alert Levels 1,2, and 3 released on Nov. 16.

In a press statement, acting Presidential spokesman Karlo Nograles said that “phase one of the implementation of LFTF classes will commence on December 2021 onwards, while phase two will begin in January 2022 onwards.”

Since June, the University has already started LFTF classes for medical and health allied programs.

On the University’s preparedness

Already-established institutional health protocols and standards for the current LFTF programs in the University shall be upheld during the resumption of expanded in-person classes.

The health protocols include the protocol for contract tracing and reporting of cases; for screening and detection, containment, and lockdown; for referral and transfer; and for isolation, quarantine, and COVID-19 testing.

“Our academic units are preparing the face-to-face training plans appropriate to their programs, consulting with stakeholders, coordinating with the Facilities Management Office (FMO) for the retrofitting of facilities, the Health Service for orientation on health protocols, and OVRAA for preparing the documentary requirements,” the statement read.

Moreover, the University’s digital IDs will be utilized to log contract tracing and health declaration features of Thomasians participating in limited in-person classes. Thus, students will be required to update their health conditions, vaccination status, and any contact with COVID-19 patients in the Thomasian Online Medical Services and Support (ThoMedSS)  website.

Health information collected through the new automated system will be monitored by the UST Health Service.

Angela Gabrielle Magbitang Atejera
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Thomasian artist bags 1st place in global art competition

Bricx Martillo Dumas, a graduate of the College of Fine Arts and Design, led the competition among 208 applications from 58 countries.

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"Nexus" by Bricx Martillo Dumas. Photo courtesy of DigitalArt4Climate and Bricx Martillo Dumas' Facebook page.

A Thomasian alumni won first place in the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) art competition on Sunday, Nov. 14.

Bricx Martillo Dumas, a graduate of the College of Fine Arts and Design, led the competition among 208 applications from 58 countries.

His winning piece entitled “Nexus” showcased a hand holding a cigarette and a plastic material against a plain red background. This was the only entry from the Philippines and Southeast Asia.

Four winners were selected through online public voting using Facebook reactions. Dumas’ art has garnered 825 reactions as of writing.

Dumas said that joining the competition was his chance to both represent the Philippines and advocate for climate action.

“Eight years ago, my hometown suffered from the wrath of [Super] Typhoon Haiyan. It changed my life forever. Should we wait for another typhoon stronger than Haiyan just to realize that this world is suffering from mass extinction? Or should we be the change that this world needs? Our time is now,” Dumas said in a video by DigitalArt4Climate.

“Nexus” was one of the selected 30 creations “with a great level of art skills and unique ideas about climate action” that will be auctioned off by DigitalArt4Climate to support the Sustainable Development Goals and UN Agenda 2030.

“DigitalArt4Climate” is an initiative in partnership with UN-Habitat that utilizes its resources for climate empowerment.

Larraine Castillo
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