University of Santo Tomas

Thomasian student activist receives show-cause letter from UST administration

Patricia Kahanap

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Thomasian student activist receives show-cause letter from UST administration

HANDS OFF STUDENT LEADERS. Panday Sining UST chairperson Raven Racelis leads a protest at the University of Santo Tomas on Monday, February 19.

Ethan Cardaño/The Flame

'Handa ako at hindi ako natatakot dahil alam naman natin na between [the university] and me, sila ang mali dito,' says Panday Sining UST chairperson Raven Racelis

MANILA, Philippines – With the censorship controversy at the University of Santo Tomas (UST) still simmering, a student activist who led on Monday, February 19, a protest which urged Thomasians to help defend campus press freedom received a “show cause notice” from the school for allegedly violating UST’s Code of Conduct.

In particular, UST’s Office for Student Affairs (OSA) called out Raven Racelis, a philosophy student at the university, for being the chairperson of the organization Panday Sining UST.

She was told to explain in writing why she should not be disciplined for her infraction.

Racelis said in a statement that the UST-OSA notice alleged that she violated the Code of Conduct which states that students “shall join or form only student organizations whose objectives uphold the vision and mission of the University,” and that they shall not use the schools name or logo in any activity “unless duly authorized by the Office of the Secretary General.”

Racelis added that the UST-OSA based its notice on a September 6, 2023 social media post “showing that you are the Chairperson of the said organization.”

Panday Sining, a national demographic mass organization, describes itself as a “national performing group of artists aiming to create art as a medium for progressive expressions of national democracy.”

“To be targeted by the UST admin is a brand of progressiveness — proof that I spoke out against the student repression in UST, rebelled against state fascism, and stood with the basic sectors in the fight for national democracy,” said Racelis in a statement.

Earlier this week, the university took heavy flak for forcing TomasinoWeb, its student-led digital media organization, to take down a now-viral photo of some of its students entering a convenience store. UST said the social post was a “source of public ridicule.”

The picture was a part of a social media post featuring students from different colleges wearing their “Type B” uniforms, which are typically worn during the first half of the year.

Handa ako at hindi ako natatakot dahil alam naman natin na between [the university] and me, sila ang mali dito. Nasa likod ko ang mga Tomasino na biktima rin ng pagiging represibo nito,” Racelis told Rappler in an interview, adding that she is currently drafting a response to university officials with the help of her legal team.

The national office of Panday Sining expressed its support for Racelis and slammed UST for being “desperate in maintaining the rotting education system which is repressive in nature.” 

“If the mission of UST is to dedicate itself to the generation, advancement, integration, dissemination, and application of knowledge to form competent and compassionate persons committed to serve the Church, the nation, and the global community, then it is clear that the administration of UST itself is failing,” it said in a statement.

Kabataan Representative Raoul Manuel also reacted to the show-cause notice in several X posts.

UST is no stranger when it comes to issues surrounding censorship. In 2020, organizations blasted the university for implementing stricter rules for social media posting

Less than a year later, the university was called out on social media for asking an aspiring student leader to remove his Zoom background showing a protest, during a live debate.

Rappler has reached out to the university’s secretary-general and director for student affairs to ask for comment, but has not received a response as of this writing. This story will be updated with their reply once it is available. –

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Patricia Kahanap

Patricia Kahanap is a digital communications specialist at Rappler.