The University of Santo Tomas opened its historic gates to a new batch of Thomasians. Over 11,000 first-year students in the basic and higher education levels began their student life at UST by joining several onboarding activities, including the ROARientation sessions, a welcome concert, and the Thomasian Welcome Walk from August 2 to 5, 2023.
This year, new Thomasians were introduced to UST’s context and culture through a series of talk shows that focused on the themes of Tradition, Inspiration, Guarantee, Resource, and Engagement.
The Virtual ROARientation on August 2, which was live-streamed via the official UST Facebook account (@UST1611official) and the UST Tiger TV account (@USTigerTV), presented the University’s policies and services to the students and parents. The discussions also focused on the academic, research, and spiritual life in UST, health and wellness, student safety and comfort, University communication, and student engagements.
The in-person ROARientation on August 5, with a culture-based orientation, engaged the students in interactive games and various activities. New Thomasians can earn prizes, learn the sports cheers for school spirit, and immerse themselves into the dynamic culture of the Thomasian community.
UST Rector Very Rev. Fr. Richard G. Ang, O.P., and Vice Rector Rev. Fr. Isaias D. Tiongco, O.P., led the Eucharistic celebrations for the morning and afternoon sessions, respectively, and concelebrated the Masses with the Dominican Fathers.
Immediately after the ROARientation, freshmen joined the annual tradition of the Thomasian Welcome Walk, where students enter the historic Arch of the Centuries to symbolize the beginning of their Thomasian life. Led by the UST Secretary-General Rev. Fr. Louie R. Coronel, O.P., EHL, and the administrators of each academic unit, the students were met with cheers and drum beats upon entry through the Arch.
Since 2002, hundreds of thousands of Thomasian freshmen have walked through the Arch at the start of each academic year. For the freshmen of 2023, their entry on August 5 began the cycle that will end in a few years at their Baccalaureate Mass, when they will exit through the Arch. UST holds its traditions involving the Arch of the Centuries in high regard because the Arch was the original gateway of the University back in its Intramuros campus. It was reassembled piece by piece in the Sampaloc campus after World War II and serves as a reminder of the University’s rich history.
After entering the Arch, the new Thomasians joined the Thomasian Welcome Party, which featured P-Pop sensations BINI and BGYO, and Thomasian talents Anton Stefano and JC Herrero. While the freshmen watched live at 7:00 PM at the Quadricentennial Pavilion, other students and fans outside the Thomasian community can revisit the livestream, which is still available on the UST Tiger TV (@USTigerTV) Facebook page.
On August 4, the University of Santo Tomas officially opened the Academic Year 2023-2024 with the Misa de Apertura (Mass of the Holy Spirit), presided over by the Bishop of Marbel, South Cotabato, His Excellency Most Rev. Cerilo Alan U. Casicas, D.D., and the Discurso de Apertura (Inaugural Lecture), which was delivered by Academician Prof. Maribel G. Nonato, Ph.D., the Assistant to the Rector for UST General Santos. She discussed “C.A.R.E. in the 21st Century Academic Institution”.
Regular classes commenced on August 9, 2023, with most classes proceeding via hy-flex arrangements through the Enriched Virtual Mode (EVM) of education. The University’s health policies, such as masking in crowded areas and indoors, frequent hand sanitization, and thermal screening, among others, remain highly encouraged.