Despite De La Salle’s requirement of a signed and notarized non-fraternity contract from all of its students, fraternities remain at large around the University premises given recent cases attesting to harmful fraternity activity. In early December, The LaSallian received a report that a freshman from DLSU was beaten by members of a fraternity, purportedly from the fraternity Tau Gamma Phi (TGP). The student concerned declined to speak up on the matter, but confirmed that a beating did indeed take place.
The report comes despite the requirement of a Non-Fraternity Contract upon entrance into the University. The report is also inconsistent with the University’s record which shows that no students have so far been involved with fraternities, but is however in line with both insider and outsider affirmations of the presence of fraternities in the University and in the Taft area.
While the report was of a beating, TGP President Louie Aseoche tells that their fraternity prohibits violence including spontaneous beating outside of fraternity-related activities. He does not deny, however, that such incidents do occur in initiation processes.
“Tau Gamma has a strong presence in La Salle, and neophytes really have to pass the initiation which could involve paddling and belting and whatnot… But there is always a brod who supervises the initiation rites. And hazing or beating done outside the frat is disallowed,” he tells.
All students are required by the University to submit a non-fraternity contract upon entrance into the University, in accordance with the Student Handbook which prohibits membership in fraternities, sororities, and “any unrecognized organization that subscribes or participates in any violent act”. The consequence for students found to have violated this contract is dismissal or expulsion. Also punishable are those found to have encouraged fellow students to join, and those who are proven to have been present in any initiation rites.
The requirement of the contract dates back to 1995, when it was first implemented due to a series of small incidents concerning fraternities within the University. There are, however, very little ways in which the University can verify the contracts, and conduct follow-up checks on student involvement in fraternities.
By account, these fraternities have never lost their presence. Fraternity member Allan*explains that he was coerced to undergo initiation due to “peer pressure, curiosity… and want to belong to a group or for protection”.
Such recruitment activities are ongoing both inside the University and in the surrounding establishments. Sophomore Peter* tells of an attempted recruitment in his freshman year, “I used to hang out in Sherwood a lot, then one day these guys who were there a lot too went up to me and asked if I wanted to join. It’s okay because they left me alone after I said no.”
Zero recorded cases
According to statistics from the Student Discipline Formation Office (SDFO), there have been no fraternity-related cases recorded in the last few years. A representative from the SDFO tells, “The more na tahimik, the more na palamak, and the more we are scared because there are no [fraternity-related] reports coming in. Parang nararamdaman namin na walang naglalakas-loob na magsabi. (The more quiet the case, the more serious it is, and the more we are scared because there are no [fraternity-related] reports coming in. We feel that nobody would like to speak up on the matter.) ”
The Office of Counseling and Career Services (OCCS) also reports zero cases of students they have handled who have been involved in fraternities. Dr. Susana Estanislao, RGC, OCCS Director explains, “We do accept SDFO referrals of different offenses or nature of problems, thus, no specific figure is reported for frat-related incidents, if there is. So far, I don’t remember such case… Maybe to start with, [it is because] frat involvement is prohibited in our campus.”
Estanislao states that OCCS is also open to students who have suffered from fraternity violence, though none have approached them yet. “If there is such, we provide ‘trauma counseling’ or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) for severe cases where there is intense fear, helplessness, loss of control and threat of death on the part of the ‘victim’,” she says.
Police Supt. Mannan Muarip, Station Commander of Police Station 9 (PS-9) of the Manila Police District (MPD), says that in the Taft area, very few cases involving fraternities are reported to the station, but that they are very much present. According to Muarip, the last incident occurred in around August when a brawl broke up between groups in the establishment Plato.
He recounts, “Yung huling away diyan, malapit lang sa La Salle, sa Plato sa Leon Guinto… Grupo-grupo ng mga estudyante, between APO and Tau Gamma kung tama ang pagkaka-alala ko. Nagpadala kami ng tao para i-break-up yung mga grupo at naayos naman siya. (The last incident happened near La Salle, in Plato in Leon Guinto… It involved groups of students, who were from APO and Tau Gamma if memory serves me right. We sent some officers to break up the brawl and everything was settled peacefully.)”
“Hindi sila masyadong nanggugulo, dahil ang problema talaga sa lugar ninyo, robbery. Pero nandiyan sila (They don’t really cause trouble, because the real problem in [Taft] is robbery. But [the fraternities] are there),” he furthers.
Muarip remarks that the number of cases, however, may be highly understated because people do not always send in reports to the police station.
Furthermore, although there are occasionally cases which involve students, the MPD does not forward its reports to the schools which the concerned students hail from. He reiterates, “Wala na sa trabaho namin yung kailangan pang sabihan ang eskwelahan. Kung may mga involved na estudyante, ang karaniwang ginagawa na lang namin, pinapatawag yung mga magulang. (It is not part of our job to inform the schools. If there are students involved, what we usually do is call for their parents.)”
Deaths, injuries in recent years
A number of people have died from fraternity hazing or initiation rites despite the existence of Republic Act No. 8049 or the Philippine Anti-Hazing Law. One of the most notable cases in recent years is the death of San Beda College (SBC) law student Marc Andre Marcos in 2012, after succumbing to injuries obtained during initiation rites of the fraternity Lex Leonum Fraternitas.
The event resulted in the expulsion of 27 students from SBC, after proven to have been involved in the hazing of Marcos, while cases were filed against a total of 37 people allegedly involved in the case.
Another event spurred by fraternity violence is the bombing at the Bar Exams in 2010, then held at DLSU. The explosives were thrown by members of the fraternity Alpha Kappa Rho, targeting members of Alpha Phi Omega, but missed and instead landed and exploded near a group of students from SBC who were part of the fraternity Alpha Phi Beta. A total of 47 people were injured, with two requiring leg amputations.
Overcoming the fear
The SDFO encourages students to “overcome the fear” of reporting known fraternity involvement to the University. University Student Government (USG) Vice President for Internal Affairs Carlo Innocencio also shares that the USG is supportive of the SDFO’s efforts against fraternity involvement.
“As students, we’re constantly made aware of the repercussions of joining fraternities,” Innocencio says, “So if any student wishes to report anything such as maybe involvement of or violence towards a friend, they can always voice out their concerns to the University through the USG.”