YR 47 Issue 1 2011
Passage of Students’ Code
       remains uncertain
The CSC conducts a weekly meeting with the Central Board of Students (CBS) to formulate plans and new “tactics to make the administrat on approve” the code.

Different approach, faster passage

According to Taguiam, the method adopted by the previous CSC administration made the passage of the Code slow. It was fi rst draft ed and submitt ed for evaluation and review by each University office. Following this, the proposed code will be forwarded to the diff erent deans and regents of the University.

It will then be evaluated by the Rector and will be given back to the CBS for final drafting. The charter will undergo a plebiscite wherein deliberations will take place to determine if it will be approved or rejected by the Board of Regents, Academic Senate, and the Board of Trustees. Af erwards, the document will then be given back to the Rector for ceremonial signing.

“Before, the ideal process is for it (Code) to be approved by all of the administration offices. However, the process was tedious,” Taguiam said. “So what we did was from the Student Welfare Development Board’s (SWDB) endorsement, we passed the endorsed copy to the deans and regents. After they are finished reviewing it, it will be forwarded directly to the University Rector.”

As of press ti me, the proposed code was already endorsed by the SWDB and is being reviewed by the deans and regents of different faculties and colleges.

The local student councils were designated to ask for updates from both deans and regents of their respective colleges. As of this writing, Taguiam said there were already colleges that already submitted their comments.

However, the fi ght for establishing a Students’ Code does not end at its passage. If constitutional theories need enabling laws, the charter also needs a set of implementi ng rules and regulati ons (IRR) for it to functi on.

“The Students’ Code would not end there [passage]. Like the consti tution, the Code needs specific rules and regulations that will complement the Code,” CBS Speaker Lester Lomeda said. After the plebiscite sponsored by the Central Commission on Electi on (COMELEC), he said that the CBS will then start drafting the IRR.

“The Central Board will be the ones to draft the implementi ng rules and regulations right aft er winning the plebiscite by simple majority,” Lomeda, who is also the President of the Faculty of Civil Law Student Council, said.

Lomeda added that the issue on who will be the fi nal interpreter of the charter will be addressed in the IRR. “Defi nitely that issue will be answered in the IRR. The final interpreter will not solely be the OSA (Office of Student Affairs). It is sti ll subject for discussion,” he noted

‘Taken for granted’

Xialeemar Valdeavilla, the CSC President who pioneered the project, noted that the attempts of students to push for the Students’ Code were “taken for granted” by the administration “The efforts of the CSC and other students after my term have been draining down due to all the excuses and reasons the administrati on place over this matter,” she said in an online interview. “It is obviously being taken for granted as they move
the approval of certain matt ers and ask for endless revisions.”

Taguiam said that the constant changing of the administration contributed to the slow passage of the Code. She noted that since the diff erent University administrators have diff erent views on the matter, everyti me the administration changes, those lobbying for its passage will have to start again from scratch.

“From the first time the Code was proposed, a number of Rectors have already served their terms. From that time, deans and regents were also changed. The requirement was for every dean and regent and Father Rector himself to review the Code before we could get the fi nal proposal,” she said, adding that with that problem, “a one-year term of student council offi cers is not enough to cover the rigid negotiatiations.”

“It falls down to one objective in the fi rst place. It needs to be granted to any Filipino student, but we also need to consider the University protocols and standards so it will fit the needs of the Thomasian community,” she said.

The incumbent CSC president said that there is a diff erence “among the different universities in the Philippines. Students from UST are generally quieter compared to students from other universities who are fighting for their right to speak out.”

“With the Code, the students will be given the confi dence to stand up for themselves with regard to their right as a person. It is imperative that while inside the school, we could sense our rights,” Taguiam said.

Controversial provision

The Central Board provided the Flame with a copy of the SWDB-endorsed Code. The charter was previously divided into nine arti cles; however, the recent proposal was added with a certain provision regarding students’ responsibiliti es.

The arti cles in the code include General Principles, Academic Rights, Freedom of Expression, Right to Informati on, Right to Parti cipate in Policy-Making, Right to Organize, Right to Due Process, Responsibilities of Students, Miscellaneous Rights, and Final Provisions.

The academic rights of the students as defi ned and protected by the charter include the right to information about the course they are taking (Section 6), the right against unreasonable deadlines and requirements (Section 7), and the right to evaluate tenured and non-tenured professors (Secti on 10), among others.

Taguiam noted that one of the most controversial provisions of the code is the one that speaks about the right to evaluate professors. However, she said that the provision will aid the University in providing proper remedies to problems regarding competency of teachers.

“At present, we have a lot of cases against tenured professors. Our point in evaluating them is to show if they are sti ll capable of teaching the students,” she said. The Code will also provide the rights for married and unmarried pregnant students to enroll, if her conditi on would not “prejudice her academic studies, her health, as well as the life of the unborn.”

Looking back

During the Code’s first drafting in 2004, it was called the Magna Carta for Students’ Rights. Former Central Board of Students (CBS) speaker Philippe Adviento pioneered the project together with Valdeavilla.

The incumbent CSC president said the supposed “watering down “of the name of the charter was due to the radical implication of the term “Magna Carta.”

The Code was said to reach its momentum in 2007 during Reyner Villaseñor’s term as CSC President. During that ti me, then Father Rector Ernesto Arceo, O.P. pledged to hasten the passage of the Code. The Magna Carta was then already reviewed by Arceo and was subject for re-deliberati on by the CBS due to some vague provisions.

However, Arceo, together with two other high-ranking officials, resigned from their posts as they were dragged in the UST Hospital controversy, causing the delay of the passage of the Code.
Year 47 |  Issue 3 |  2011
After years of lobbying by student groups
The Students’ Code remains a dream far from becoming a reality as various factors hamper its passage despite the many years of lobbying by the Central Student Council (CSC). The code, which aims to specify, protect, and concreti ze the rights of students, is left at the mercy of the University administrati on. Council officers conti nue to echo the same senti ments with high hopes that the code will fi nally be passed this academic year.

IN AN interview with Central Student Council President Lorraine Taguiam, she pledged for the speedy passage of the charter, saying that their role as student government is bent to have it passed.

“What we want this year is to establish a foundati on; that there exists a Students’ Code inside UST,” she said. “The next student leaders will just have to make amendments or just add some provisions to the existing Code should the need arises.”

Aside from protecti ng the rights of students, Taguiam added that the Code also specifi es the obligations of students as members of the Thomasian community.

“The code is meant for students to know their obligations while claiming their rights. As members of [the Thomasian community] we all have duties and obligations,” she said.
Year 47 |  Issue 4 |  2012