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Investigating the case of DLSU’s Thursday lockdown

As members of the Lasallian community await the University’s official statement on last Thursday’s altercation at Yuchengco Hall and the resulting campus lockdown that had students, faculty, and staff alike stalled at the gates, details of what exactly happened that evening have slowly been surfacing.

“None of us knew what [the reason for the lockdown was],” shares Kevin Cobankiat (V, MEE), one of the many students blocked from exiting campus shortly after 9 pm last Thursday. The reasons behind the lockdown, which lasted for approximately 30 minutes, were not immediately made clear to students.

Only rumors from security guards and other students were circulating during the temporary lockdown period. Cobankiat explains that these rumors include “someone punching a security guard, something [being] stolen, and a girl [punching] a guy.” Another student, Kyle Luna (III, AEF-BSA), shares he heard rumors of “a fistfight at Yuchengco Lobby.” Other students had also been under the assumption that some items, including a laptop and phone, had been stolen.

“A couple [of] students and I asked for more details, but the guard was limited to the instructions given [to him] so he could not entertain all our questions,” Jean Caluban (II, ECM-APC) adds. “At around 9:30, only women were allowed to leave because they confirmed that the attack was not caused by a girl… After a couple more minutes, guys were [also] allowed to leave.”


On what really happened

Neulfred Paul Torres (IV, MSPSY-IOP) recalls how he was walking with a professor that Thursday evening when he saw a female student coming out of the staircase at the ground floor of Yuchengco Hall, barefoot and hysterical. “Someone slapped me,” he recalls the girl shouting, before he noticed the bruises on her foot and swelling on her forehead. Torres and his professor quickly offered their assistance, after which the girl explained what had happened.

She was studying in Y502 when a relatively tall man wearing a white hoodie, sunglasses, and a yellow bandana around his face entered the classroom. The man turned off the lights and suddenly assaulted her with a broom, aiming strikes at her head. She ran out of the classroom and down the stairs of the building, screaming for help. She leapt the last ten or so steps, spraining her foot in the process, after which the perpetrator no longer gave chase. She began asking for help from nearby bystanders once she had reached the ground floor, including Torres and his professor.

The group went back to the fifth floor of Yuchengco Hall to retrieve the girl’s items. Torres clarifies that there didn’t seem to be any missing items or gadgets, and that the victim did not complain of anything being stolen.

Once the victim had been brought to the clinic, Torres took the initiative to explain to security personnel the possible steps that could be taken to locate the assailant. He also commends a member of the clinic personnel who spoke with the victim in an attempt to piece together the entire story, as well as an initial profile of the perpetrator.

Another witness who was present at the clinic at the time shares that it was the same clinic staff member who called for the lockdown in the first place, although he admits he is unsure of the exact protocol behind such a request.

After around thirty minutes, the lockdown was lifted and students were allowed to leave the campus, though the witnesses remain unsure of where the order came from. Torres laments that the clinic staff member who was talking with the victim was still in the process of gathering details and forming a profile when the lockdown was lifted.

Members of the University’s janitorial services recall seeing the victim inside Y502 before the incident, along with a broom propped up against the wall outside the said classroom. “Ang naisip ng supervisor ko, naiwan dito ng kasama ko,” shares Celine*, one of the janitresses assigned to the area and who, likewise, thought nothing of the broom outside of its usual storage area. The janitress shares that the broom is usually kept at the storage room near the ladies’ lavatory on the fifth floor of Yuchengco Hall.


Not the first case

The assault is the latest reported occurrence of a series of incidents in the past few weeks victimizing female students on campus.

Earlier that same evening, a report was filed regarding a male individual in the second floor women’s bathroom on the south wing of St. La Salle Hall. The victim was reportedly inside a cubicle at around 7 pm when a man took a photograph of her from above the cubicle door, threatening, “Ipo-post ko ‘to.” She has since then reported the case to the Student Discipline Formation Office (SDFO).

Last February 11, a series of tweets from a concerned student warned members of the Lasallian community about a masked man harassing women in bathrooms, particularly in Yuchengco Hall. According to her tweets, her friend had been inside the second floor bathroom when a man wearing a bandana to cover his face opened the cubicle door and said, “Wanna have some fun?”


Investigations now underway

As of press time, the University has yet to issue an official statement regarding last Thursday’s lockdown, although Dean of Student Affairs Fritzie Ian De Vera assures the community that the Office of Strategic Communications (STRATCOM) will release one within the next few days.

“We need to assess what are the things that we need to improve on in terms of security, perhaps, and some protocols,” shares De Vera.

On the topic of similar incidents, De Vera explains that the February incident was the only case reported to the SDFO. “There are other cases [that are] perhaps related, [such as] peeping toms, pero iba ‘yun, eh. Iba yung ‘You wanna have fun?’ sa simple peeping tom.” She further explains that last Thursday’s incident was different as well, as there was an intention to hurt on the part of the perpetrator. She recognizes that there have been reports on social media regarding other cases of men in women’s bathrooms, but she explains that, as far as the SDFO is concerned, only one such case has been reported.

University Student Government (USG) Vice President for Internal Affairs Micah Fernando (IV, AE-APC) says that the primary initiative being taken in order to address the situation involves the improvement of the CCTV cameras around campus. He mentions that there are plans in place to update the CCTVs currently being used in time for the third term of the current academic year.

As of press time, Torres, a primary witness, has not been contacted by the Security Office, although De Vera mentions that an investigation of last Thursday’s events is already underway.

On the other hand, the February incident has since been reported to the Dean of Student Affairs and the DLSU Security Office.

De Vera reiterates the importance of reporting cases such as these, either to the Security Office or to SDFO. “If you report it immediately, there is also a high probability that you get to catch the person,” she explains. “Kaya nga maganda [if] you inform the community. If there’s any unfortunate event that happens to you, you have to report it immediately and make it known,” she emphasizes.

More on this story as it develops.


* Name was changed.

Wilhelm Tan

By Wilhelm Tan

Marinel Mamac

By Marinel Mamac

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