After a rocky start and a two-hour delay, the University Student Elections Debate organized by the Student Commission on Election kicked off with the dialogue and debate of the College of Tourism and Hospitality Management Student Council (CTHMSC) candidates from Sinag Lasalyano and TATAG Lasalyano. Titled TALAKAY: The 2018 University Debate, the event consisted of dialogues from candidates running unopposed and debates between candidates running against an opponent.
Despite the glitches in the program, the event turned out to be one of the most memorable University Student Elections Debates in the memory of the students in attendance. Setting aside the typical, refined dialogue of previous debates, TALAKAY pushed the candidates to their limits, giving us a glimpse at who can speak under the spotlight and keep their grace under pressure.
As the day progressed from one council’s session to another, the tension in Ugnayang La Salle (ULS) only grew, and so did the laughter—sometimes directed at the arguments between candidates, but oftentimes just out of sheer enjoyment as students crept out of their passive shells to become active members of the community. Yet soon enough, it became clear from the beginning that this debate wasn’t just about the candidates going head to head with their opponents, but about facing the fiery questions of the students themselves.
With that said, let’s rundown the top ten most memorable moments from the debate.
10. Better late than never
Unfortunately, the event began two hours late as the organizers waited for certain candidates to show up, with numerous people in the audience criticizing the delay as many were attending the event as an alternative class.
9. Missing in action
The event was delayed as the organizers were waiting for certain candidates from the College of Education Student Council and the College of Criminology and Justice Education Student Council to arrive. However, according to the organizers, the candidates cancelled last minute due to pressing personal reasons.
8. A rocky start
Once the event finally started, it was a rocky start for the CTHMSC candidates set to take the stage first. Being the first set of candidates to experience the dialogue and debate, there was more than a little confusion taking place on stage, and even the audience could observe how rattled candidates were with the complicated mechanics, which weren’t clearly explained. Quite a few people in the audience settled on figuring out the flow of the dialogues and debates on their own, and had to decipher what exactly the candidates were debating about in the first place.
7. Liberal Lasallians
Being one of the most vocal and socially active colleges in campus by the nature of their socio-centric professions, the College of Liberal Arts and Communication (CLAC) students proved just that as question after question, the CLACSC candidates were grilled by the students they were seeking to serve. From internal communication issues, such as program council to student council coordination, to social issues, such as Martial Law and the Duterte administration, the CLAC students lived up to their identity as “Liberal Lasallians.”
6. Work management
After the College of Engineering, Architecture, and Technology Student Council (CEATSC) candidates completed their dialogue segment, the students didn’t hold back. It was no surprise that “work management” became the hot topic during the CEATSC Open Forum, especially since the CEATSC of this academic year experienced troubles after numerous members of the council were removed from their post due to academic failures. More than a couple of the students sounded riled up when asking their questions, seeking for reassurance that they could maintain their academic and council responsibilities, with even some of the former CEATSC officers being the ones to question their would-be successors.
Social issues stole the spotlight in the College of Business Administration and Accountancy (CBAASC) debate when presidential candidates from Sinag Lasalyano and TATAG Lasalyano put their knowledge as CBAA students to the test on the topic of contractualization. The walls of ULS echoed with cheers when the Sinag candidate corrected the TATAG candidate’s statement that President Rodrigo Duterte ended contractualization on May 1. Fact-check: the President’s executive order seeks to end illegal contractualization, but not contractualization entirely.
4. Lone Wolf
Tensions rose in the open forum segment of CBAASC when the independent vice presidential candidate went head to head with a student who fired some critical questions at the self-proclaimed “lone wolf.” After defending himself from the student’s question on whether he would stay neutral when it came to social issues, the candidate then had to dodge the question that many people in the crowd wanted to ask: on why, as an independent candidate, he was being supported by a political party.
3. Student rights
Eventually, it was time for what everyone in the crowd was waiting for—the University Student Council (USC) candidates’ debate. For the last few years, the University has witnessed a failure of elections after unopposed candidates failed to gain the vote of confidence, leading to officer appointment or snap elections. Suffice to say, it seemed like the pent up enthusiasm of the students for a real debate was finally released when they cheered on the candidates in the midst of the tense debate. Shots were fired and tea was stirred as each round saw candidates put their debate skills to the test, while injecting humor where they could. While the lighthearted moments kept spirits high, it was still the heavy topic of student rights that became the center of the USC debate, with Sinag matching their Magna Carta for Student Rights against TATAG’s Student Grievance Department.
2. Equality Week
Then, the unthinkable happened—the students were informed by the host that they would not continue with the open forum portion of the USC segment due to time constraints. The students reacted as expected—boos rang throughout the building as the students demanded for the right to question the candidates of the highest student governing body in the school. The organizers conceded, and the students raced to reach the line at the microphone. While each question was as challenging as the next, it was the question from incumbent USC Vice President, Angelo Dela Cruz, that had everyone sitting on the edge of their seats. Suffice to say, the fierceness of his question on equality and Equality Week directed at each presidential candidate had the candidates tripping over their words and the audience magnetized at the spectacle happening before their eyes.
1. Cut short
And to top our list, the most memorable moment of the debate was how it ended all too early, much to the disappointment of the audience who were looking for answers to their questions as voting would begin the following day. Just as the questions got to the root of what the students were looking to do, to test the social awareness and social activeness that each candidate was advocating, the debate was closed in a hurried mess, leaving students waiting to know whether it could be carried on outside. However, according to the organizers, they would continue the debate on social media, and not outside the venue to prevent an unauthorized gathering of students that the administration would disapprove of, despite the fact that the candidates themselves seemed eager to answer the remaining questions of the students.
While the event itself succeeded in engaging a seemingly passive student body and giving the students the chance to probe the candidates, the momentum came to a halt the moment the event itself concluded without giving the students the answers they deserved. The irony could not be ignored.
Yet regardless of that, one thing is for sure—the winner of this round is…
The awakened students of DLSU-D Dasma.