UniversityTechnicalities bar LA from releasing sexual harassment manifesto
Technicalities bar LA from releasing sexual harassment manifesto
January 22, 2019
January 22, 2019

A Legislative Assembly (LA) resolution that aimed to release a manifesto regarding the alleged sexual harassment incident on campus was tabled after representatives questioned the technicalities of the document during an LA session last January 21.

LA Representatives Neal Gonzales of FAST2017, Christian Alderite of CATCH2T19, Pao Delos Reyes of CATCH2T20, and Bella Villar of BLAZE2020 proposed the resolution, following a recently published article by The LaSallian that explored online allegations of sexual harassment by a DLSU professor.

Gonzales explained, “We also believe that those victims are also in the dark, in the sense that they can’t come out because they are afraid of complaining to the proper office like [the Student Discipline and Formation Office].” He further added that he and his co-proponents felt that the matter was timely and that the resolution calling for the manifesto’s release was in the best interests of the students.

 

 

Lack of supporting data

Among the challenges to approving the manifesto was the lack of adequate data, forcing the proponents to gather students’ views on the issue through a “person-to-person method”, the specifics of which were not disclosed.

The proponents also said that if they do decide to carry out a formal survey, it would need to be processed first by the Department of Activity Approval and Monitoring (DAAM). However, the proponents argued that it would take a week before DAAM can give their approval, hence why they decided to use their alternate method out of urgency.

Alderite admitted that they had created and disseminated a survey about the issue but clarified that it will be used for their own “personal research”. Villar mentioned, however, that the results from this data gathering will not be published alongside the resolution should it be approved. As of writing, the survey in question is still open to responses from the student body.

 

Creating an ASHBD unit

Gonzales told the Assembly that his group was “conducting an initiative” to establish an anti-sexual harassment unit under the Office of the President. He, however, admitted that it is still at proposal stage, as they have not yet consulted the appropriate offices.

He further added that the scope of the unit—which they plan to call the Anti-Sexual Harassment, Bullying and Discrimination Committee—will also cover issues on bullying and discrimination, as the name states.

CATCH2T21 Representative Jaime Pastor contested this, telling the manifesto’s authors that proposing the initiative while it was still being planned was not a good idea. “We might make [students] hope that there is one (ASHBD unit) coming soon, but there’s still a lot of preparation needed, and we might not be ready for implementing it yet,” he contended.

 

Problems with content, structure

On the other hand, other representatives raised concerns on the manifesto’s contents.  EXCEL2018 Representative Sophia Go said that she found the first two paragraphs “basic”, “vague”, and “not comforting”. She added that the statement should have opened with a call to action instead.

FAST2018 Representative Krisvin Briones remarked that the content of the resolution was insufficient. “It’s a very sensitive issue, and marami talagang maaapektuhan, lalo na [ang] mga babae, and I think kailangan, kung maglalabas tayo ng ganitong manifesto, dapat completeand support[ed] siya kasi parang generic pa ‘yung content niya right now,” he argued.

(It’s a very sensitive issue, and many will really be affected, especially women, and I think, if we release a manifesto like this one, it has to be complete and supported because its content seems generic [as of] now.)

EXCEL2021’s Jocef Ocampo, while admitting that he found the statement well-written, added that it had no “sense of identity” and that he wanted quotations from the alleged victims to be included in the document even if they were kept anonymous. Geo Olaivar of the Science and Technology Complex Government, however, objected and instead reasoned that the implicated professor might determine an anonymous student’s identity if an exact quote from her would be cited.

 

Proposed revisions

Chief Legislator Stella Santos motioned to the proponents to continue discussions on the next session, but suggested that they revise the content to focus more on addressing the issue with a call to action or on declaring the stance of the students. She further recommended the statement to be “mainly on rejecting and denouncing all kinds of sexual misconduct and hoping for a safe university.”

Responding to these, Gonzales said that within the week, they can conduct a survey to back the manifesto with data, and that they will also change its tone and structure to highlight their plans of establishing an ad hoc committee.