By Andrew Jonathan S. Bagaoisan


University Student Council Chairperson Shahana Abdulwahid will represent UP Diliman at the system-wide student regent selection in Baguio from Dec. 21 to 22 as the campus’s nominee for next year’s student regent.


The University Search Committee (UC), composed of USC officers and college student council representatives nominated Abdulwahid with 14 “yes” votes last Dec. 11 during the university-level SR selection at the School of Economics. Two voted “no” while six others abstained.


USC officers from the Student Alliance for the Advancement of Democratic Rights in UP (STAND-UP), Abdulwahid’s party, and representatives of college councils dominated by the party made up most of those who voted “yes.”


The College of Mass Communication through Student Council Chairperson Karol Yee and Journalism representative Jose Carlos Maningat voted “yes.” Maningat later said the CMC-SC officers agreed on the vote. Yee added in a separate interview that majority of the council believed Abdulwahid was “capable” for the post.


Abdulwahid, an MA Islamic Studies student, was first nominated by the College of Education Student Council and was the lone college-level nominee in Diliman.


Before becoming USC chair, she won as councilor with the highest number of votes in the 2006 USC elections and served as chair of the Katipunan ng mga Sangguniang Mag-aaral sa UP (KASAMA sa UP), an alliance of more than 30 UP student councils, in 2005.


‘Continue to fight’


Speaking at the university convocation, Abdulwahid said the Centennial student regent would face much expectation in terms of “advocacy, commitment, discipline and enthusiasm.” She said the student regent should focus on “safeguarding the interests of the students and marginalized sectors of the University.”


Abdulwahid singled out this year’s tuition and other fee increases (TOFI) as the main issue affecting UP students.


She said the “unfavorable result” of the TOFI’s implementation outweighed its benefits and would lead to policies of commercialization that had “detrimental effects to the students and UP community.” She later added that her first priority if selected as SR would be to “continue the struggle of the students against TOFI.”


A challenge for the SR, Abdulwahid said, would be to reach out to the students and make them participate in issues that affect them as UP students and as Filipino citizens.


“The [Office of the Student Regent or OSR] does not and cannot offer a catch-all solution to all student concerns and does not and cannot address all student problems without the support of the students,” she said.


She said she plans to consult with the different UP units frequently to address the lack of participation of councils in the General Assembly of Student Councils (GASC). She said she suggested using the GASC not only for SR selection-related activities but also for the councils to voice out their concerns.


In an interview with TNP after the convocation, Abdulwahid said that if selected, she also plans to conduct leadership seminars for student leaders and organizations, establish “student centers” similar to Vinzons Hall for orgs in other UP units, and undertake the rehabilitation of Vinzons.


System-wide selection


If selected, Abdulwahid would be the first Muslim student regent and the fifteenth SR from Diliman. According to the Codified Rules for Student Regent Selection (CRSRS), she would have to leave her USC post to current vice-chair Viktor Samuel Fontanilla, who presided over the Diliman selection.


Three other units have also named their nominees as of Dec. 11, said incumbent SR James Mark Terry Ridon. The other nominees are Rula Yael Gongora of UP Los Baños, Deo Florence Onda of UP Baguio, and Jose Ignacio Tenorio of UP Manila.


The two-day meeting in Baguio—the second convened by the GASC this year—will bring together representatives of college councils from the different autonomous and regional units. Presided by Ridon, they will narrow the nominees to three after letting all nominees present their vision papers and plans of action.


After further deliberation and questioning, the GASC will select a final SR nominee through a consensus. If not, the selection will be subject to voting until one gets the GASC’s mandate.


UP President Emerlinda Roman will then endorse the GASC-selected nominee for appointment by President Arroyo. The 21st student regent will serve from January to December 2008. #




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