ADMU group, student gov't demand apology, reform over sexual harassment cases vs faculty

ADMU group, student gov't demand apology, reform over sexual harassment cases vs faculty
Photo shows a building in Ateneo De Manila University.
Ateneo de Manila University / Facebook

MANILA, Philippines — Members of the Ateneo de Manila community called for what they said was a survivor-centered and trauma-informed community response in addressing the litany of sexual violence allegations within the university, many of which have still gone unaddressed to this day. 

"Our community owes the promise of reform and change to the many survivors who, in various avenues and ways, have shared their stories in the pursuit of justice, healing, and a truly safe community. We owe it, too, to survivors who have had to keep silent for fear of being disbelieved or retaliated against," they said in a statement Monday night. 

READ: Whatever happened to: Time's Up Ateneo and sexual harassment cases vs faculty

The statement, which was jointly signed by the Sanggunian: Commission on Anti-Sexual Misconduct and Violence and Time's Up Ateneo also demanded an apology for an earlier statement issued by the school claiming that "no formal complaints" had yet been filed against one professor whose name was raised at protests. 

At the time, one student had already filed an official case against the professor a year prior. 

"We ask the university administration for a genuine apology for and a clear rectification of the 23 October 2019 memorandum," the statement read, pointing out that the statement "misled the community on the issue and discredited the stories and voices of survivors and their advocates." 

"We ask them to be transparent to the community, beginning with the correction of misleading information, and the release of pertinent updates regarding the specific matters and cases discussed in the said memorandum." 

READ: Lack of formal complaint doesn't mean no harassment happened, Ateneo group says

To recall, the university administration in August 2020 approved a new Code of Decorum and Administrative Rules on Sexual Harassment, Other Forms of Sexual Misconduct, and Inappropriate Behavior which is set to officially roll out in the coming semester. 

Time's Up Ateneo and the Sanggunian CASMV in their statement welcomed the code, which they called a "significant development in addressing sexual and gender-based violence," and one that was "greatly informed by survivors' criticisms of an old system that they found to be opaque, insensitive, and retraumatizing." 

However, the effects from past processes still remain, the groups said. They pointed out non-disclosure agreements that survivors were made to sign with university offices and urged the university to "refrain from weaponizing these and the Data Privacy Act against survivors."

"The university must respect the rights of survivors not only by respecting their ownership of their stories, but also fully upholding their right to privacy if they wish to remain private. We further ask the university not to countenance any disciplinary complaint or adverse action against survivors and their supporters for speaking up, and to investigate acts against them as retaliation."

Both the student government and Time's Up Ateneo called on the community to "continue the necessary conversations" towards taking up "collective responsibility to seek accountability." 

"Hearing the stories and sentiments of survivors, it has become clear that a truly compassionate response from the university administration is necessary...thus, we call on the university and the entire community, in the process of reform, to duly honor survivors, their healing, and their vision of justice," the statement also said. 

"What our community needs is cultural change, and this can only be possible if we are ready to recognize that victim-blaming and insensitivity toward survivors persist." 

— Franco Luna 

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