MANILA, Philippines – Inspired by the protest that came in the wake of another case of sexual harassment surfacing online, various members of the Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) community formed a coalition advocating for an end to sexual violence on campus.
The coalition dubbed “Time’s Up Ateneo” is comprised of ADMU students, faculty, and alumni eager to consolidate efforts against sexual violence and impunity in the university, meet and negotiate reforms with the administration, and urge for the implementation of long overdue structural changes.
The coalition was founded two days after disgruntled students and a handful of faculty members protested outside ADMU’s humanities building on October 15, expressing indignation over how the school investigates cases of sexual harassment.
The protest came on the heels of another case of sexual harassment involving faculty that surfaced on Facebook. This is not the first time a sexual harassment case became viral within the Ateneo community. In 2018, the ADMU student council filed a case with the university against a longtime male professor after a post in Facebook group “ADMU Freedom Wall” drew attention to the professor’s alleged sexual harassment.
Protest to action
Moving forward from protest to action, Time’s Up Ateneo gathered common demands from the October 15 protest and the ensuing statements of support and solidarity from different groups to conceptualize concrete actions that can be raised to the administration.
With the help of the university student council Sanggunian ng mga Paaralang Loyola ng Ateneo de Manila, Time’s Up Ateneo and other student groups including Samahan ng Progresibong Kabataan (SPARK), Kabataan Partylist Katipunan, One Big Fight for Human Rights and Democracy (OBFHRD), and Kabataang Kakampi ng Manggagawang Pilipino (KAKAMPI) initially came up with 5 demands focused on the following:
- Improving survivors’ welfare through effective mechanisms and processes;
- Seeking action on filed sexual harassment cases;
- Pushing for transparency of the committee handling the investigations and their findings so far;
- Ensuring students’ safety;
- Enforcing a policy with strong anti-sexual misconduct provisions.
These were later reworked into two immediately enforceable actions and presented in a meeting with Time’s Up Ateneo, student representatives, the university administration, and the Ateneo Loyola Schools Faculty Association (ALSFA) on Friday, October 18.
In a statement on Monday, October 21, Time’s Up Ateneo shared that among the demands they raised during the meeting were possible structural changes for reform, and the immediate implementation of no contact hours between students and a longtime professor who’s been alleged to be a sexual predator.
The Sanggunian further acted on this demand, officially filing a petition with Vice President for the Loyola Schools Dr. Maria Luz Vilchez after the October 18 meeting.
“We are still waiting for the official announcement on the administration’s issuance of [the No Contact] order, but we expect the administration to issue this,” it said.
It was after this meeting that Ateneo President Fr Jett Villarin SJ apologized and vowed actions on sexual harassment.
Time’s Up Ateneo assured that other key demands will be tackled in further discussions. It shared that it will work closely with the Sanggunian on the issue of sexual violence and impunity, as they push for the Committee on Decorum and Investigation to be made public and reconstituted in such a way that nominees will have representatives from other sectors in the university, among others.
Time’s Up Ateneo said the multi-sectoral coalition is the first of its kind in ADMU.
“While Time’s Up Ateneo is still working on its organizational structure, we already extend invitation to all student groups and individual students, alumni, faculty and staff, and parents to join our multi-sectoral coalition as we continue the fight for a university that is free from sexual violence and impunity,” it said. – Rappler.com