‘Me too’ at Ateneo: University says probe has been launched

October 5, 2018 - 3:14 PM
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Photo of the Ateneo de Manila University campus in Loyola Heights, Quezon City. (Ateneo de Manila Facebook page)

After one its faculty members was accused of sexual harassment and misconduct, the Ateneo de Manila University said it is taking measures to prevent similar incidents from happening.

Maria Luz Vilches, vice president for the university’s Loyola Schools, in a letter released on Thursday said that the school administration is conducting an official investigation into the sexual complaints filed by students against one of its college faculty members.

Vilches said the evidence gathered so far have been elevated to the university’s Committee on Decorum and Investigation.

“We assure you that all of the cases that have been filed by victims will be investigated and heard, and persons responsible will be held accountable,” she wrote.

The allegations started when a post on the “Ateneo Freedom Wall,” a Facebook page to which students of the university anonymously submit stories and confessions about their life in the university, criticized an unnamed faculty member for speaking out against abuse when he himself made students uncomfortable with his behavior.

The anonymous contributor said the faculty member, whom he referred to as a “famous professor on Twitter” invited students to individual consultations in his bedroom and message them to solicit pictures of their feet.

The contributor said that the professor usually targeted students who had difficulty in his class.

Individual consultations are a known practice by instructors in the university to properly and privately discuss their students’ academic performance.

The post, which has received over 800 reactions and 270 shares as of press time, was met by clamor from students to immediately penalize the unnamed professor.

Taking the necessary steps

The Ateneo student government has confirmed that an investigation into the complaints is already underway. According to the school’s student leaders, the school is developing a stricter anti-sexual harassment policy.

Students, alumni and faculty members continue to call for action on harassment complaints in the university to be taken.

Some alumni who claim to have received advances from the professor have also pledged to help in the investigation.

Under the Anti-Sexual Harassment Act of 1995, educators can be penalized if they are found to have solicited sexual favors in exchange for giving a passing grade or granting a scholarship or award to students, or if the sexual advances made cause an “intimidating, hostile or offensive environment” for the student.

Those found guilty will be sentenced to one to six months in prison and fined anywhere between P10,000 to P20,000, at the discretion of the court.