“Student leader.” This is a term used often in the sphere of student councils, yet it’s also a term not always put into practice. It boggles the mind how these words are readily used to describe oneself when a true student leader proves this title in actions and not just in claims. We’ve forgotten that these are words to be bestowed upon you by other people who deem you worthy, and not by yourself. In this sea of “student leaders,” the real question in this year’s University Student Elections is who you decide as being worthy of that title.
Before anything else, let’s remember what a student leader must do according to Section 18.1, Student Government, of the DLSU-D Student Handbook 2014-2018.
“The University Student Council (USC) is the highest student governing body in the University.
a. It is the official representative of the students of De La Salle University – Dasmariñas in all activities held within and outside the University.
b. It serves as a mediator between the student body and any sector of the Lasallian community where there are cases of differences.
c. It is an active agent in promoting national awareness and consciousness among the students of the university.
d. It believes that College Student Councils (CSC), Heraldo Filipino (HF), Council of Student Organizations (CSO), Performing Arts Group (PAG), Student Commission on Elections (SCE), collegiate and/or departmental organizations and publications, and other recognized student groups are significant partners in serving, empowering, and protecting the rights of the students.
e. It fosters an atmosphere where critical thinking prevails.
f. It enjoins the students to act as one in advancing their rights and welfare.
g. It regularly conducts consultation with students to be guided by their sentiments.”
Servant. First, to limit these responsibilities to the University Student Council (USC) is a disservice to the entire Lasallian community. Instead, we must hold every candidate of every council, whether USC or a college student council (CSCs), to these standards if we want the best student service possible.
Thus, it is the candidate who shows capabilities in fulfilling every item on the list that deserves our vote, and also the candidate who is enthusiastic to do so—not because they are required by the Student Handbook but because they are passionate to serve their constituents. It would be a stretch to say that any council in the past or present has effectively accomplished all the tasks on this list, but that doesn’t mean we must lower our standards when we deserve better.
Student. It is the candidate who is not merely a student of the school, but a student of society, who deserves our vote. Seek the candidate who is aware of the privilege of students who can afford to go to DLSU-D, and is willing to use that privilege as a platform to engage and promote national, civil, and social consciousness. University is the last stepping stone before the real world where we will become full-fledged members of society. As such, let the candidate with honest social awareness and genuine social empathy have our vote—someone who not only advocates social issues, but is fully informed about what they are advocating for in the first place. Social awareness should not be a plan or platform—it should be a principle. (See: National Union of Students in the Philippines’ guide to voting)
While most students want what is popular, the job of a student council is not to give them what they want but to give them what they need in order to create the most valuable and meaningful college life possible. It is the candidate with specific and thought-out plans for reform, not just words claiming that there will be change, who deserves our vote; a candidate who engages in discourse, not who escapes from criticism; a candidate who favors programs for social involvement, not just awards, pageants, and seminars; a candidate who campaigns issues, not just organizes events; and most importantly, a candidate who will stand up for what they think is right, and not be silent in pressing times.
Leader. Aside from having good plans and ideas, it is the candidate who has the ability to carry them out who deserves our vote. Ideas without action will lose their impact, especially if the student leader lacks the ability to manage, delegate, and lead. A largely underrated part of being a student leader or officer in a student council is the sheer amount of willpower needed to get things done. From the small things, like processing paperwork, to the big things, like conceptualizing innovative ways to serve the community, an officer requires responsibility, discipline, and principles to pull off one’s tasks.
Apart from the ability to execute their plans and platforms, it is the candidate who does not view their plans and platforms as mere words to win the vote, but unbreakable promises to their constituents, who deserves our vote.
While it’s the job of the candidates to prove their capabilities and gain the trust of the people, it’s also up to the voters to make an informed decision. Realizing that not everything is black and white, a critical voter will make a measured decision for the best of the community, knowing that while some candidates have more substantial plans and platforms, other candidates show more ability and responsibility to execute their plans and platforms.
It’s no secret that many students have grown uninterested and passive with University Student Elections in recent years, yet that shouldn’t be an excuse to not properly exercise our ability to vote and impact change. At the end of the day, who you vote for matters as proactive students will make proactive leaders.
May 3 is fast approaching. Vote for someone who doesn’t just call themselves a student leader, but someone who proves that in their actions—someone who deserves the title. And most importantly, vote for someone deemed worthy of the title “student leader” in the first place.