General Elections University

Is this the USG? An interview with Saint Anthony Tiu

Back in 2003, Student Council President Saint Anthony Tiu drafted a then revolutionary idea: a University Student Government, with three functional branches patterned after the Philippine government. In an interview with The LaSallian, Saint shares his original vision, and sets it against the backdrop of the USG today.


The vision of the USG back then was really to create the right identity for a student government. Back then, we were an activity generation body. Every now and then, Student Council (SC) officers would think of short-term projects versus long-term sustainable programs. And back then, the issue was (the SC’s) overlapping primarily with the Council of Student Organizations (CSO): the two could not distinguish who and what they were anymore, whether they were a government or just some student organization.

So that was the problem. What we were trying to address back then was [our] need for an identity, and how to create the line between SC and CSO. So the vision was that the student council should [stand] as a student government, to the point that instead of creating activities, it should create policies, advocacies, and services for the student body. The student government should not be handling any activities.


That was the rule agreed upon by the CSO and other organizations. The entire student government would focus mainly on policy creation, creating resolutions and stands on issues at hand, whether University wide or national or international. It would not create any activities or short-term projects.

There will still be some executive power, but the problem with the executive is that we think its always about execution and activities, when it’s all about creating programs and execution in the form of creating policies. Lobbying a policy is executive power, right? You lobby this to the University President or to the Senate. The USG really calls for some paradigm shift in terms of how we ground the government.

A good example is the batch government. Instead of creating batch level activities, it should instead utilize manpower in terms of lobbying [and] enforcing University wide advocacies. So let’s say, for example, the Legislative Assembly (LA) will create a policy or a stand on something. Batch representatives should ask themselves: how can I translate this to my batch? What kind of program will enable me to deliver the stand to the rest of my batch?

The Executive Board will be responsible for large-scale representation, in terms of being active in committees inside the University, as well as becoming front liners in advocating stances on national issues. I envisioned the USG President, for example, standing there in the Senate, lobbying and being on national TV, saying, this is where Lasallians stand on the issue.

I think there were a lot of principles that were lost in translation when the SC was reviewing and revising the original USG proposition. Considering the fact that I wasn’t there to defend the proposition, previous USG officers from a different ideological background did not really understand the principle behind the USG. They could not fully discern the recommendations that supported it so that’s one challenge. The other thing is the fact that there is a lack of understanding on what the USG really is for the people who actually led the USG, such as the USG presidents. Superficially, they call it a government, but they’re actually operating like a student council.

The fact that the USG last year agreed to implement many centennial activities for the University is a violation of what a student government should be, at least if we remain true to the original USG proposition.

It takes time. When we envisioned the USG, we knew it wouldn’t just happen overnight; it came along with a five year sustainability program, where the first year focused on internal reforms. We were envisioning that as they implement the USG, the USG for that year would focus on what is needed in terms of internal reforms, such as the manner in which Comelec would prepare for this, or how the LA would look like.  If necessary, we stop some external ties so we could focus internally. This would also be the year in need of a strong presidency. After that one year, when you build up the internal capability, the second year will be the year where you build the external ties, thinking, ‘now that we’re strong internally, we need to go out’. Then, these organizations can be linked up, creating a stronger alliance with each other, USG included.

I think it is very important that the USG institutionalizes principles in terms of running the USG, such that even though the president may have a different view, for as long as the principles are clear and tackles that, this is how the USG should operate, then all parties could always come back to the agreed principles. There might be some difference in policy creation and execution here and there, but it should be minor to the overall principles and strategy.

The current limitation with our student leaders back then was this mentality: ‘This is my year, I will do whatever I can for my batch.’  There was a lack of long term sustainable envisioning of plans, so there was no thought of: ‘This is what I want in the future; that is why I am doing this today. Even though I neglect some of my current duties as a president, [creating a system] will still help me get there”.

It is very difficult for students, who are not involved in the USG, to understand how exactly the mechanisms work. I wouldn’t put that burden on the USG to fully explain the entire system to the students. It should be a multifunctional collaborative effort from different sectors.

We need the student population to really understand the reason things are happening. We cannot let them just accept the fact that we ‘need’ more basketball tournaments. It is our responsibility to understand why the student government is doing something so crucial such as an internal, social overhaul.

Juan Batalla

By Juan Batalla

Miguel Luis Gayares

By Miguel Luis Gayares

6 replies on “Is this the USG? An interview with Saint Anthony Tiu”

We cannot blame them if they create many activities and programs. Ano na lang ang ilalagay ng mga candidates sa political parties sa credentials nila kung walang mga activites? those are their selling points during elections. All of them think of election. Most of the programs are short terms. If there ever was a long term program by a ruling party, it would be cut short if the opposing party is elected. Both parties create activities and programs for their name and not for the USG.

and that idea or mentality should be removed. We are working for the student body not for our own. See, some of our USG Officers are like the Filipino Politicians. Kung kelan malapit na ang election kailangan may magawa or padamihan ng nagawa para sa bayan. Tsk tsk!

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