Despite his Upsilon ties, U.P. president commits to resolve frat issues
MANILA, Philippines – University of the Philippines president Danilo Concepcion promised to “root out [the] problem” of fraternity violence, after recent campus incidents involving two fraternities raised renewed concerns within the UP community.
Concepcion made the statement Friday, November 23, more than a week after the latest incident, incidentally involving Upsilon Sigma Phi, to which he belongs.
Initially thought to be a shooting incident, a car chase involving warring fraternities Alpha Phi Beta and Upsilon Sigma Phi occurred on November 14. It was the second case of fraternity-related violence in campus that week.
Shortly after Upsilon’s centennial anniversary on November 18, a series of screenshots of offensive private chats – dubbed the “#LonsiLeaks” – were attributed to Upsilon Sigma Phi. The conversations, which had gone viral, feature sexist, homophobic, and Islamaphobic remarks.
They included remarks like bombs were invented to wipe out the Muslims, that women were given mouths not to express their views but to perform oral sex, and that fraternity members should punch their girlfriends in the stomach after sex to make sure they don't get pregnant.
These incidents sparked an uproar within the UP community regarding students’ safety being threatened by fraternity-related violence. A number of UP organizations, including the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies, decried the behavior and pushed for action from the university administration. (READ: UP’s gangland wars: A historical note)
While the source and authenticity of conversations have yet to be determined, Concepcion nevertheless denounced the language and behavior reflected in them. “The attitudes displayed in these published posts demonstrate how much more we need to do to reform medieval mindsets within the university at all levels.”
He explained that "misogyny, sexual harassment, and bullying, or any form of violence against women and other groups in this university, and any such offenses will be dealt with to the full extent of the university’s judicial and administrative remedies."
Concepcion, despite being an Upsilonian, gave assurances he would do all he can, both as university president and as a fellow of the fraternity, to resolve the issues. He said he “will not protect any fraternity brother who may be found culpable of these kinds of offensive acts.”
New requirements for campus organizations
Concepcion has instructed UP Diliman Chancellor Michael Tan to “expedite” the investigation into the recent brawl on campus involving members of the Upsilon Sigma Phi and Alpha Phi Beta fraternities to identify the participants, establish liabilities, and file the appropriate cases against the offenders.
Moving forward, chancellors of all UP units will require student organizations to undergo gender sensitivity training before their accreditation or renewal is granted. Security on campus will also be intensified to ensure a peaceful environment for students, faculty, staff, and residents.
Those personally threatened by recent incidents can also go to Concepcion’s office for assistance. “I am offering the protection and assistance of my office in seeing to it that your case is attended to, that your safety and security are assured, and that justice is served,” he said.
Upsilon investigates offensive social media posts
On November 22, Upsilon Sigma Phi released an official statement on the unverified screenshots containing slurs and highly-offensive statements. Similar to Concepcion’s sentiments, they called it unfortunate how the postings came in the heels of their centennial anniversary. They also claimed there is a “concerted effort to besmirch the reputation of our fraternity during this momentous celebration.”
We the student members of the Upsilon Sigma Phi strongly condemn all acts of discrimination specially against these sectors. Many student leaders who are members of our Fraternity have time and again led and worked with organizations and individuals to fight for equality. We will continue to do so because this is what we stand for.
Unfortunately, these postings are being attributed to a few students who are members of the Upsilon Sigma Phi. The student members of the Fraternity take these accusations very seriously and will not tolerate members espousing such backward, misogynistic, and discriminatory views.
The organization said it had conducted an initial investigation into the matter, the results of which would be given to the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs. It vowed to "unconditionally cooperate with the efforts of the OVCSA not only in gathering facts but in ensuring accountability consistent with the dictates of due process."
Is Upsilon really cooperating with U.P. admin?
In Chancellor Michael Tan’s statement released late morning of November 23, he claimed the fraternities involved in the brawl were uncooperative.
“My vice-chancellors and I are disappointed by the lack of cooperation from the two fraternities. Both were conspicuously absent in a meeting I called for all fraternities, and they claimed later they did try to attend but arrived late,” he said.
He further added that the fraternities’ silence has been “deafening”. Though Upsilon Sigma Phi published a statement condemning the violence and the offensive conversations, Tan said they still disclaimed responsibility.
He urged the fraternities to take quick action to "root out the scalwags" and to reexamine their concept of fraternity honor, saying that it “seems to be oriented towards protecting brods right or wrong, and which comes closer to the Mafia omerta or code of silence, rather than with U.P.’s definition of honor.”– Rappler.com