U.P. frat member dies after latest hazing exposé

Editor's Note: We have made adjustments in the previous version of this story in recognition of the sensitivity of the issue and to respect the privacy of the victim's family. We apologize for our oversight and thank readers who called our attention. We will continually strive to do better in our reporting and decision-making, as we handle these delicate stories in the future. 

 

MANILA, Philippines – An official of the University of the Philippines (UP) in Diliman confirmed on Sunday, September 29, that a member of the UP Sigma Rho Fraternity died, as he called on the public to “stop posting and forwarding social media messages” about the incident.

In his statement, UP Diliman Chancellor Michael Tan did not name the student nor specify the cause of death.

“I appeal to all students, faculty and staff, as well as other concerned parties in and out of UP Diliman, to stop posting and forwarding social media messages related to the death of one of the Sigma Rho Fraternity members implicated in last week’s online exposé of the fraternity’s hazing,” said Tan.

“Let us do this out of sense of decency and respect for the privacy of the family,” the UP Diliman chancellor added.

Sigma Rho is under fire after alleged conversations among the fraternity’s members about a hazing ritual were leaked online last week. (READ: U.P. community condemns frat-related violence, impunity over leaked chat)

The screenshots feature a group of persons preparing for what seemed to be a hazing ritual, with several images indicating the procurement and brandishing of a paddle, which is commonly associated with hazing ritual rites.

But the photo that sparked the most outrage was that of a person whose face and arms were covered with bruises.

Among the names mentioned in the leaked conversations was that of UP Diliman University Student Council (USC) Councilor Tierone Santos. The USC has put Santos under preventive suspension pending further investigation. (READ: Gatchalian calls for suspension of U.P. frat in latest hazing incident)

The viral screenshots of the alleged Sigma Rho Fraternity conversations came at the heels of the death of Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Cadet 4th Class Darwin Dormitorio, who died due to hazing.

Three more PMA cadets were reported to be hospitalized for suspected hazing in the days after Dormitorio’s death.

The UP administration is investigating allegations of hazing lodged against the Sigma Rho Fraternity. Tan promised to keep the public updated on any developments in the probe.

“Administrative action was initially initiated immediately after the hazing exposé, towards the pursuit of justice for the hazing victims, and we will keep the public updated on these cases,” said Tan.

The UP Diliman chancellor also cautioned against “sensationalism” in the ongoing hazing controversy.

“Sensationalism is itself a form of violent assault and is not the solution to the fraternity culture of violence,” said Tan.

This is not the first time leaked conversations among members of a prominent UP fraternity sparked public outcry. Last year, the Upsilon Sigma Phi fraternity faced backlash over its members’ misognyist, homophobic, and Islamophobic remarks.

Upsilon also came under fire after its members clashed with Alpha Phi Beta in yet another case of frat-related violence in UP. – Rappler.com

In the Philippines, the Natasha Goulbourn Foundation has a depression and suicide prevention hotline to help those secretly suffering from depression. The numbers to call are ‎804-4673 and ‎0917-558-4673. Globe and TM subscribers may call the toll-free number 2919. More information is available on its website.

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the House of Representatives and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.

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