The second week of March is typically a busy week in De La Salle University.  For regular students, it’s the time for them to relieve themselves from the weight of midterms, and to prepare for the last few weeks of the academic year. For aspiring student-leaders, however, it is their time to show their worth.


This is the month when green becomes irrelevant, and is replaced with red and orange, and blue and yellow. It is when every opportunity to campaign, room-to-room, and down the halls, is precious and imperative.


For the students, the most that may be expected from them is to take a vote and decide which of the candidates they want to govern over their affairs in the next school year. For the contenders, their platforms and their running mates from their respective parties are a concern, alongside their aspiration of securing a position.


However, a bigger challenge awaits them when the results are in and counted.


Ideally, a sweep is the desired goal in order for the student body to gain assurance that a party’s respective platform is actualized during the course of the year. Sweeps, however, seldom happen, as voters’ choices have grown more diverse, and candidates by both parties now usually occupy seats.


Undeniable clash

Last school year, Isang Tugon sa Tawag ng Panahon (Santugon) won four seats in the Executive Board (EB), while Alyansang Tapat sa Lasailista (Tapat) won the presidency. It was a situation that the student body was bracing themselves for: a majority working together with a minority of high ranking.


Santugon takes pride in a vision where competencies of each individual are maximized through their initiation of activities that promote socio-political awareness. On the other hand, Tapat’s focus is rooted on sustaining a just and free society, wherein circumstances within the University are extended to apply to those outside through the actions of the students and the University’s other stakeholders themselves. Having two different ideologies pushing for two different platforms come together to compose a single Executive Board is a risky bargain, but is nonetheless the situation that occurs most often than not.


Robert Hechanova, outgoing Vice President for Internal Affairs, and one-fourth of the EB members hailing from Santugon, admits that there could have been better ways to handle matters within the current administration. “There are times wherein [hindrances to our activities occur] due to priority and overall view on the issue,” he said. “But we always try to take every situation and task differently. At the end of the day, our service for the students is what pushes us to work together despite our differences.”


Jana Cabuhat, University Student Government (USG) President and the sole Tapat standard bearer in the EB, admits to not having a specific platform for her office, as her platform was patterned to fit Tapat’s entire running EB at the time. “I carried that sort of platform with me, so it was very hard for me to achieve it since I really needed the help of my [running mates] for those projects [to materialize],” she shared. She then allowed herself to refocus on the “doable” aspects in order for her party’s platform to still be maximized.


Necessary conflict

Having such a setup in the USG caused unforeseen events for the University, which resulted to both negative and positive scenarios. In the past year, the supposed unified body had a difficulty starting off on the right foot. They admit that it was a scene of an unwanted clash of different platforms.


For Cabuhat, she feels the USG could have had a smoother run during the year. She points out that the lack of communication from both parties was one main reason for the USG’s rough sail when the school year started. Cabuhat, though, does not look at their parties as the reason for the lack of communication, but instead points to certain time constraints wherein the EB would not be complete at a time when it was necessary.


Cabuhat does not deny that they had their fair share of difficulties especially when it came to the need of having the two platforms halfway since two parties have occupried the EB. “You can just oversee things, but then again you really can’t do anything about them and you can’t overstep your boundaries because you have the Judiciary to answer to,” furthered Cabuhat about the added constraints her circumstance presented.


However, Cabuhat saw a positive outcome from the extended rivalries of the two parties once they are elected into the USG. “[The rivalry was a] a good source for conflict and opportunities within the USG,” she shared. “Imagine if there was no rivalry between Tapat and Santugon. We wouldn’t be as vigilant as we are now with each other and with each other’s work.”


Preference for consistency

After a year of experiencing conflicting ideologies in the EB where the majority was headed by the minority, both Cabuhat and Hechanova have learned that there will always be room for improvement.


Hechanova, who is now running for the presidency, sees the need of bringing in his whole EB slate to the USG after the General Elections for a smoother run this time around. He shares that it is important for him, if elected as president, to have everyone on the EB on the same page as early as possible in order for them to work toward his vision for the USG and the student body.


On the other hand, running president from Tapat is Kaila Astorga who believes that there is a way to arrive at healthy conversations even with opposing perspectives. If elected, she believes that the EB must maintain working toward one common vision with an established direction.

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