Today is the first of the two Election Days in which students of DLSU-D will vote for a new set of University and College Student Council officers.
From a total of 97 candidates, 49 came from Samahan ng mga Estudyanteng Naninindigan para sa Tunay na Reporma at Ordinansa (SENTRO) political party, 46 came from SINAG Political Party while two are running as independent candidates.
They are contesting a total of 64 positions in the 7 College Student Councils and the lone University Student Council.
The total number of student-voters in DLSU-D is estimated to number around 12,000. However, year after year, the average voters’ turnout is around 30-45%. It’s a long standing issue which deserves a separate discussion in another post for another time.
Today, I will deal with one of the most pressing questions with regards to the elections: “How are winners of the elections determined?”
The answer can be found in Sections 112 and 113, Article XIII of the 2008 Revised Student Election Code of DLSU-D, which reads:
Section 112. USC Officers. Candidates who have obtained the highest total percentage of votes cast in all colleges shall be the winners for the said positions in the USC.
The winning candidates are determined in the following manner: first, each candidate’s collegiate electoral score is determined by obtaining the percentage of votes cast for him/her in each college, second, each candidate’s electoral collegiate score is combined, and third, the candidates with the highest combined collegiate electoral scores shall be the winners of the election for
Section 113. CSC Officers. Candidates who have obtained the highest total percentage of votes cast in all program courses offered in their respective college shall be the winners for the said positions in the CSC.
The winning candidates are determined in the following manner: first, each candidate’s program electoral score is determined by obtaining the percentage of votes cast for him/her in each program offered in his/her respective college, second, each candidate’s electoral program score is combined, and third, the candidates with the highest combined program electoral scores shall be the winners of the election for CSC Officers.
This is what has been called as the Collegiate Electoral Score system. The wording of the provisions are clear on how it works, but it’s a lot easier to understand by looking at it’s formula version:
A candidate’s Collegiate Electoral Score in each of the 7 colleges are then added together for his/her final score. The candidate with the highest final score would be the winner for the position he/she contested.
The same formula is used in the College Student Council elections, but instead of “Votes cast in a college“, it will be “Votes cast in a program” or a course in that college. Then, all the scores are again added together. The candidate with the highest score wins the position he/she contested.
Does this formula conform with the 2008 USC Constitution? Yes it does. The USC Constitution simply requires that USC Officers be elected at large by the bonafide students of DLSU-D. (Sec. 2, Art. V, 2008 USC Constitution)
By “at large” it means all the students in the University. However, within the University, there are seven colleges with differing student populations. Some colleges are twice or even triple the size of another college in terms of student population. An example would be the College of Business Administration which has the largest student population of over 3,000 students. This is more than double the population of the College of Criminal Justice Education whose population is no more than 1,000 students.
So before the Collegiate Electoral Score system was introduced, student elections in DLSU-D have been dominated by political parties with solid support from the largest colleges namely the College of Business Administration and College of Engineering, Architecture and Technology.
The voices of the smaller colleges are drowned by the votes of the biggest colleges. That is not in line with the essence of democracy, that is a ‘virtual dictatorship’ of a few colleges.
In order to remedy this unfair situation, the framers of the 2008 Revised Student Election Code of DLSU-D devised the Collegiate Electoral Score system. It was inspired by the Electoral College system used in the election of US Presidents.
Because like DLSU-D, the United States of America faced essentially the same problems in every election, there are states that are more numerous than other states in terms of population. William C. Kimberling, Deputy Director of the Federal Election Commission Office of Election Administration explained:
Direct election was rejected not because the Framers of the [US] Constitution doubted public intelligence but rather because they feared that without sufficient information about candidates from outside their State, people would naturally vote for a “favorite son” from their own State or region. At worst, no president would emerge with a popular majority sufficient to govern the whole country. At best, the choice of president would always be decided by the largest, most populous States with little regard for the smaller ones.
Paraphrasing Mr Kimberling in the context of DLSU-D elections, USC officers would always be decided by the largest, most populous colleges with little regard for the smaller colleges under the old system. Such candidates may have the highest votes in the election, but it is not the popular majority from all the seven colleges in the University.
So in setting up the Collegiate Electoral Score system for DLSU-D, the framers of the 2008 Revised Election Code adopted the principle that each of the seven colleges be given equal weight during elections. The system will also ensure that the winning USC officers would have the majority support of students from each of the seven colleges, not the majority of just one or two colleges.
The new system creates a more level playing field for political parties their candidates and it even gives a chance for independent candidates to take on veteran players, this ultimately leads to a more dynamic and vibrant student-politics in DLSU-D. Equally important, it gives real meaning to one of the oldest slogans in the USC – “unity amidst diversity.”
Disclosure: I was a member of the Student Election Code Revision Convention. I present, I am affiliated with SENTRO Political Party.