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Know your candidates: Garduce and Casis vie for first year batch rep post

Following the recent failure of elections in the first year batch representative position in the Ateneo Law School Student Council, Matthew Casis of Block 1-B and Block 1-D’s AJ Garduce stepped up to run for another special elections for the same position. 

Get to know the candidates here. The elections will be from 11 am to 6 pm on Friday, October 25. 

AJ Garduce:

1) What is your plan of action for the batch and what specific steps will you take to accomplish it?

My projects for the batch will revolve around three goals: 

a. Academic Excellence 

Under this goal, I aim to provide a batch-wide review before finals focusing on the three main subjects: Consti, Crim, and Persons. I call it the CCP review. In this project, there will be no recits, just a lecture on the important doctrines to be given by an alumnus of the school who is an expert in the field. If time permits, the lecturer could give sample questions to the students, the students will then answer, then the lecturer will give the correct answer in ALAC format.

b. Accessible Student Representation 

Under this goal, I want the students’ voices to be heard. Using GForms, they can type in their proposed projects, then if it’s approved by the Student Council, then I will implement them. This is an important project because it gives students a chance to actually propose projects that they want or deem necessary.

c. Batch Camaraderie

Projects like a batch boodle fight or a batch ball/party is, in my opinion, necessary to create a bond between different people in the batch. It’s these light and fun projects that, if executed well, can be memorable for the batch.

2) What do you think are the most pressing issues you need to address as a batch representative and how will you go about it?

I believe that sexual harassment is one of the most pressing issues that I need to address as a batch representative. I’ve come up with the anonymous grievance program to help solve that. In this program, people can write their grievances without the fear of being identified. 

3) What is your edge over the other candidate?

I cannot speak for the other candidate, but I can assure you that I will always be open to listen to people’s problems, especially if it’s about the school. The job of the batch representative is to address the needs of all the students. I believe that I can perform this duty well.

4) Why did you choose to run in the special elections and not the first one?

To be honest, I still wasn’t sure of myself before. I wasn’t sure if I could handle being the batch representative and the daily grind of law school. But after the failure of elections, it made me think that maybe God is giving me another chance to prove myself. After careful consideration, I’ve come to a decision that I am ready to be the batch representative or Batch 2023.

5) What is your stand on the issue of sexual harassment and what have you done or will do regarding this issue?

I think sexual harassment is a very serious issue and that it should not be taken lightly. I believe people of all sexes and genders, deserve to have a safe space where they can learn the law, without the fear of sexual predators. To address this, I’ve come up with the anonymous grievance program that will provide an avenue for students to air out their concerns privately.

Matthew Casis:

1) What is your plan of action for the batch and what specific steps will you take to accomplish it? 

My plan of action revolves around the phrase what MATTers which means More Representation, Additional Services, Transparency, and Transmission of Information. 

First for more representation I plan to include different groups in the Ad Hoc Committees under my office to create special projects. In particular, I want to focus on working students and those who commute. I will introduce a readings delivery system for working students wherein cases and other photocopied readings done in the Law School will be delivered to the area of their offices. I will also create an improved carpool system with fixed schedules so students can better plan out their commutes to school without worrying how to get there. 

Second in my plan of action are additional services. One of these services will be a Student Health Hub wherein almost all your basic over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and other medical supplies, such as bandages, facemasks, and napkins will be available 24/7 via the LSAC. Another service is the Student Essentials Lending Service where one can borrow book stands, codals, and other materials. Third I plan to introduce a Study Buddy System between 1st and 4th year students. This program will be voluntary to ensure that everyone part of this will be committed. Both 1st and 4th years will benefit since the former will have someone to lean on in terms of their academics while the latter will be able to better review their 1st year subjects. Several of which are essential components of the Bar Exam, which the 4th years will take the following year. 

Third in my overall plan is transparency. I want to ensure that I hold my office accountable to everyone in the Freshman batch by including a project performance report. This report will include the Key Performance Indicators, whether or not the project achieved these, and the overall costs of the projects. These will be released in a primer every end of the semester. 

2) What do you think are the most pressing issues you need to address as a batch representative and how will you go about it? 

I think the most pressing issue I need to address as a batch representative is that as 1st years it is quite difficult for us to adjust to the rigors of Law School and balance the stress of day-to-day life. I plan to resolve this issue by removing all the worries my batch mates have through my projects and services. This is so that they can focus on what matters- their studies 

3) What is your edge over the other candidate? 

Although I can’t speak for my opponent, I can speak for myself. My strengths can be summed up to experience, critical thinking ability, and heart for service. I have a lot of project management and leadership experience throughout college and even my professional career before I entered law school. I am also used to making plans and executing them in order to address problems, both in a micro and macro level, in the organizations I have been in. Lastly, many of my past constituents can attest that I show care to the people I lead and serve. 

4) Why did you choose to run in the special elections and not the first one? 

In all honesty, I was still adjusting to law school during the time of the first elections. However, because I have an immense desire to serve the batch, I decided to run in the special elections. I empathize with every single member of the freshman batch and I want to ensure that I take care of everyone’s needs. I also see the problems our batch is facing and I know I can do something to address these. That is why I decided to run. 

5) What is your stand on the issue of sexual harassment and what have you done or will do regarding this issue? 

My stand on sexual harassment is that it has no place in any institution. I believe justice must be meted out to the guilty however this must be done in the framework of due process. I also believe that we should have more safe spaces for those harassed to air their grievances so more reports of sexual harassment will come to light. What I plan to do if I do get elected as batch representative is to ensure that everyone in the batch, especially victims of harassment will have a safe avenue to air their grievances to me. Also, along with the members of my Ad Hoc committees, I plan to create special projects such as talks and other guides on how to deal with sexual harassment at home and in school.

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