#StepUpUAP: Another school faces complaints of sexual harassment
MANILA, Philippines – The University of Asia and the Pacific (UA&P) is among the latest in a string of colleges and schools facing a wave of sexual harassment complaints, following the rise of viral hashtags #HijaAko and #MCHSdobetter.
Several students and alumni have come forward to detail alleged abusive sexual patterns of former and current teachers of UA&P.
Going so far as to show alleged screenshots of their interactions, some former students of the university also shared how an old teacher of the university would reportedly try to perform sexual acts with them, as well as start conversations about malicious topics.
Meanwhile, others alleged a current employee of UA&P is exhibiting sexist behaviors and leading unwanted sexual advances on underage students.
The issue was raised both on Twitter and in several Facebook groups including UA&P Voice-Out, which seeks to bridge concerns of UA&P students to the Center for Student Affairs and the rest of the university community.
According to former students, they were either too scared to speak up or their complaints fell on deaf ears.
Addressing the issue
By June 27, the UA&P broke their silence and acknowledged the reports of alleged harassment.
While the university only mentioned reports about alleged harassment by a former teacher, it asserted how it is already looking into the matter closely and taking the necessary action to resolve the issue.
They added the university did not receive any complaints about the teacher throughout the duration of his employment with the UA&P from 2009 to 2011.
UA&P said a filed complaint would have allowed the university to start an investigation, take necessary interventions, and mete out appropriate disciplinary sanctions to protect its students.
Nevertheless, the university promised it will review its systems and processes to safeguard the welfare of the students and create safer spaces for them to provide feedback on similar incidents.
“We will not condone reprehensible behavior, especially acts that gravely undermine human dignity. We further acknowledge the University’s responsibility for the safety of those who are subjected or were subjected to such misconduct,” they said.
UA&P encouraged victims to come forward and file their complaints with the Office of Student Mentoring, Guidance and Counseling (MGC) at firstname.lastname@example.org for prompt action. Students may also report to the program directors and members of the operations committees.
It likewise reiterated the responsive measures they have in place, including counseling from the MGC and possible referral to qualified professionals to help them move towards recovery, which will be available even to former students affected by sexual harassment.
Alumni take action
Further bolstering calls to have safer spaces for students, a group of concerned alumni dubbed the UA&P SOS (Safeguard Our Students) have led an online petition on change.org in a bid to start a dialogue with the university on sexual harassment.
This later spurred the creation of #StepUpUAP, as students and alumni call for stronger action from the UA&P administration in addressing sexual harassment among its ranks.
Many have spoken up about their own stories of sexual harassment using viral hashtags, with some creating iterations for their schools such as #TimesUpAteneo, #SPCPSQUAREUP, and #MARISCIDOBETTER to call out the inappropriate behavior of teachers in their institutions.
The UA&P SOS, through its petition, urged the university to address reported cases properly, and provide proper support to victims.
“Looking forward, we also ask more proper safeguards and policies are put into place to ensure that present and future students are safe from any form of sexual harassment,” they said.
At least 537 individuals have signed the petition as of Monday afternoon, June 29. – Rappler.com