/ 23 August 2021

A COALITION of Ateneo de Manila University students and alumni urged the organizers of an orientation seminar for freshmen to stop victim-blaming and let survivors who experienced alleged sexual harassment to speak up.

“Time’s Up Ateneo fully stands by the survivors who have spoken up in recent days about the harm that was caused to them by one of this year’s OrSem hosts,” the coalition said in a statement.

“Time’s Up Ateneo offers the survivors our full support, as they face backlash, victim blaming, and anonymous online bullying as a result of their decision to speak their truth,” it added.

The coalition issued the statement after a student posted on Facebook that she was “silenced and bullied” for speaking out about her sexual assault.

Because she was only 15 then, the student said she was manipulated for 2 to 3 years and never got to find justice.

She condemned the orientation committee of OrSem for supporting her harasser’s argument and letting him become a host for this year’s event.

The orientation committee, however, clarified that the school stands with the victims saying it “will give support in their quest for truth and justice.”

“As we stand with the survivors, we also recognize the rights of the accused to be heard. To our knowledge, there has been no formal complaint, much less a notice of charge. We ask the parties involved to settle the matter through the available official processes,” it said.

Time’s Up Ateneo lamented that the statement “reduces survivors’ experiences to a matter of mere paperwork.”

“While baselessly insinuating that the survivors who recently spoke up did not at least attempt to engage in due process, the statement also turns a blind eye to the many survivors who have been failed by due process,” the coalition said.

The coalition pointed out that any claim of support for survivors means nothing “if the actions they take enable others to bully and silence survivors.”

“The OrCom’s statement incorrectly claims that the host in question is not accused of misconduct. Betrayal of trust in the context of a case of sexual violence is misconduct by any measure and in a great number of ways,” it said.

“Those who betray survivors’ trust run afoul of school regulations and of many legal protections that have been instituted to protect survivors, such as the Safe Spaces Act of 2019,” it added.

“We call on the accused to reflect on and take responsibility for the consequences their actions have had on the survivors, who will carry with them the pain of their experience long after OrSem has ended.”