Ateneo admin: No formal complaints vs faculty accused of sexual harassment

MANILA, Philippines – The Ateneo de Manila University administration said it has not received formal complaints against two professors accused online of inappropriate sexual behavior towards students. 

In a memo released Wednesday, October 23, the Ateneo administration said it has not received formal complaints against two faculty members from the English and Philosophy departments. The school defines formal complaints as cases that reach the Committee on Decorum and Investigation.

The administration said that since the committee's establishment in 2017, they have only received 7 formal complaints, 5 of which resulted in termination of employment. 

The Wednesday memo further read: "We are engaging the services of an independent auditor to identify any gaps and recommend ways to improve our processes. We recognize that our systems are imperfect, and we are working together as a community to introduce improvements and eradicate all forms of sexual harassment from the halls of the university."

The memo came almost a week after the university president apologized for how the school dealt with cases of sexual harassment amid a protest mounted by over a hundred students and some faculty members.

"Ateneo [is] not a space for sexual predators. We do not want to foster this culture of silence," Ateneo de Manila University President Jett Villarin said Friday, October 18, during a dialogue with concerned students and faculty held 3 days after the protest. 

Since then, various members of the Ateneo community have formed a coalition advocating for an end to sexual violence on campus.

Calling themselves Time's Up Ateneo – inspired by a movement of the same name launched in Hollywood – the movement is demanding the university administration to improve its mechanisms of survivor welfare and student safety.

It also wants the university to be more transparent about cases, whose details the school administration said are protected by the Data Privacy Act.

On Wednesday, 3 faculty members of the English Department wrote an opinion piece published on The GuidonAteneo de Manila University's school paper, saying that they "stand with members of the Ateneo de Manila community who have voiced their sentiments online and offline regarding current and previous sexual harassment cases, and the forces that have worked to contain them."

Like the student coalition, the 3 faculty members called on the university administration to make its processes more transparent and attentive to victims' trauma and needs. 

"The issue of sexual harassment has exposed a number of the institution's patent weaknesses. Our institutional culture has made these shortcomings appear formidable, given, and immutable. They are not; we must address them," the open letter read. 

"We hope that as a community – diverse in our interests, yet united in our concerns – we can work toward attaining justice for the victims and genuine institutional transformation." – Rappler.com