Friday, February 28

Your next USC

Scene from this year’s mudslinging debate.

The last time I published a post, Diliman was gearing up for this year’s elections. As I write this, the polls have closed and the votes have been counted. We now know who will make up next year’s University Student Council.

In my last post, I said that this year’s elections would be a referendum on the performance of KAISA, which was the majority in this year’s council. The students have spoken: only one KAISA councilor bet made it to the top 12, and only two colleges have KAISA candidates for college representatives-elect. On the campaign trail, the party was frequently asked what had happened to their promise of One Strong UP.

Age-old debates continued to rage. Is STAND UP’s militant brand of activism still relevant in today’s world, and considering the evolving makeup of the student body of UP? Should the socialized tuition system of the university—recently revised and renamed STS—be scrapped or reformed?

ALYANSA’s victory this cycle is decisive. Both their standard bearers, as well as seven councilors, will serve in next year’s council. Evidently, despite recent controversy surrounding the party and the stance it took regarding the General Assembly of Student Councils, Diliman is willing to get behind the “new USC” that it offers.

One will note with surprise that the top two councilor spots were taken by independents—Jethro David, whose advocacy is Natural Disaster Risk Reduction and Management, and Raymond Rodis, who advocates a more personal and approachable USC. Did the specificity of their platforms appeal to UP, or did the student body long for the refreshing sight of independent candidates amid the din of inter-party mudslinging? Maybe it was a little bit of both.

The most bothersome statistic from this year’s elections: less than half—48.07%—of eligible voters went to the polls. Most of Diliman either doesn’t care about local politics, or is so jaded by it that they didn’t think it was worth their while to take five minutes to line up and vote, if only to register their discontent by clicking “Abstain” on all positions. Neither possibility is good.

This cycle, like the others before it, surprised me. I never expected there to be so many UP students passionate enough about university and national issues to buy two weeks’ worth of a monochrome wardrobe, and I’ve never understood why they always wait until February to come crawling out of the woodwork and try to outdo each other’s nationalism and passion for service.

Tomorrow, there’ll be no more smiling faces in AS, no more impassioned speeches during room-to-room campaigns, and much less will be said about which councilors have what kinds of USC GA attendance records. But I sure hope that the last two weeks are only the start, and not the quick end, of these flaming passions.

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Congratulations are in order for Tinig Ng Plaridel, the official student publication of the UP College of Mass Communication. They provided terrific coverage of this year’s elections.

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