Photo shows a building in Ateneo De Manila University.
Ateneo de Manila University/Facebook
Ateneo students protest 'inaction' on sexual harassment by faculty
Franco Luna (Philstar.com) - October 15, 2019 - 5:18pm

MANILA, Philippines — Students and faculty members of Ateneo de Manila University held a demonstration on campus on Tuesday to protest the perceived impunity of alleged sexual predators among its faculty.

This came in response to a viral Facebook post where a victim outlined his experience of sexual harassment by a professor. According to the student, the professor was suspended for 15 days after a six-month wait for the decision on the case.

“They have continually protected professors who prey on vulnerable students like me, even allowing those who have been convicted of such acts to return to teaching again,” the post said of the school’s approach when dealing with similar cases.

In a statement condemning sexual misconduct on campus, the ADMU Sanggunian lauded the online accounts of victims as “courageous” and asserted that “the systems put in place in institutions like the Ateneo [have] failed in creating a safe environment for its students.”

Students first gathered outside the university’s Dela Costa Hall, where the department of the alleged professor and predator is housed. After going around the campus chanting “Sexual predators, get out of Ateneo,” protesters proceeded to gather outside Xavier Hall, where the Office of the Vice President is.

“[A]ng nakita namin na pinakamahalagang gawin ngayong araw ay makiisa sa mga survivors at ipaglaban ang karapatan nila bilang mga mag-aaral ng Ateneo,” Sanggunian president Quiel Quiwa told Philstar.com. 

(Standing in solidarity with the victims and fighting for their rights as students of Ateneo is what we see as the most valuable action we can take today)

“Habang gumagalaw ang Sanggu para mapakilos ang Admin at bumuti ang sistema, nakikiisa rin ito sa mga mag-aaral na binigo ng sistema. Kailangan nating mag-ingay para marinig ng mga decision-makers.”

(While the Sanggunian is working to get the administration to act and improve the system, the council also stands with students whom the system failed. We need to make noise so the decision-makers can hear us)

Commission on Anti-Sexual Misconduct and Violence

A 2018 post in the "ADMU Freedom Wall" Facebook page drew attention to one professor who allegedly sent inappropriate messages inviting his students to individual consultations in his private quarters. The student government confirmed later on that school officials had begun a formal investigation on the matter. 

Since the issue of sexual harassment at the hands of faculty members was thrust into the spotlight, a study assessing university gender policies was launched, protocols outlining oral examination protocols and filing harassment complaints were outlined, while the student government established its Commission on Anti-Sexual Misconduct and Violence (CASMV).

In 2017, the university mandated that disciplinary committees report any instances of sexual misconduct or violence immediately to the Loyola Schools administration, a Sanggunian CASMV report sent to Philstar.com said.

According to the report, only 29.5% of sexual harassment cases were properly filed and resolved, while 31.6% of cases filed were still being processed. The remaining 39.5%, however, remained without official disciplinary cases with the university administration, and were only brought to the student government. The report outlined numerous recommendations for possible courses of action. 

The 12-page report was forwarded to Ateneo administration, which informed the Sanggunian that “a partnership between the Gender Hub and the Office of Student Discipline had been institutionalized as of May 31, 2019 to handle the needs of survivors of sexual misconduct, and investigate complaints of sexual misconduct and other related offenses.”

“The difficult part is for cases between students and faculty because the University’s Committee on Decorum and Investigation (CODI) is handling that. We don’t have seats in the investigating body for employees who harassed students yet, and we’re working on having student representation on all aspects concerning students,” Quiwa admitted. 

“I firmly believe that when you’re handling student concerns, you have to involve the students.”

Ateneo has yet to respond to a request for comment from Philstar.com as of this post.

Anti-Sexual Harassment Act, Safe Spaces Act

The legal definition of work, education or training-related sexual harassment as noted in Republic Act 7877 or the Anti-Sexual Harassment Act of 1995 is any misconduct “committed by an employee, manager, supervisor, agent of the employer, teacher, instructor, professor, coach, trainor, or any other person who, having authority, influence or moral ascendancy over another in a work or training or education environment, demands, requests or otherwise requires any sexual favor from the other, regardless of whether the demand, request or requirement for submission is accepted by the object of said act.”

Furthermore, the Safe Spaces Act, or Republic Act No. 11313 stipulates that the “failure of employers or school heads to implement their duties under the Safe Spaces Act (i.e. including setting of administrative penalties to violations of gender-based sexual harassment in the workplace)” merits a fine ranging from P5,000 to P10,000.

The Supreme Court in July suspended a law professor at Xavier University, another Ateneo institution, for complaints of sexual advances on his own students, which included love notes and even invitations to travel together.

“[T]olerance for such acts often leads to perpetrators walking away having felt no serious repercussions or consequences for their actions,” the Sanggunian’s statement asserted. 

“We trust, time and time again, in a system that is supposed to protect the student body from all these abuses, but we see all our hopes being shattered by menial punishments and the administration’s short-term memory loss.”

SEXUAL MISCONDUCT
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