‘Miriam College will do better’: School responds to #MCHSDOBetter posts on sexual allegations

June 26, 2020 - 12:53 PM
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Female protecting herself
Stock photo of a woman protecting herself against perpetrators. (Pixabay/ Gerd Altmann)

Miriam College on Thursday evening issued a statement in response to the allegations of student harassment that were reported online through the hashtag #MCHSDOBETTER.

MC president Amb. Laura del Rosario said that the school has “promptly initiated” the investigation of the reports and “will take appropriate steps to resolve the situation.”

She added that the school administration will form a committee solely tasked to perform “serious review of the cases in the past and the resolution to these cases.”

“This institutional Committee, independent of any existing committees will also look into and act on the current cases, if any, and to recommend appropriate steps. And in the end, we hope that closures will be achieved, and reconciliation becomes possible,” Del Rosario said in a statement.

She additionally mentioned that the school will also undergo “a serious process of self-criticism” in light of the online accusations and assured the community they will “do better” following the purported cases.

MC'S COMMITMENT TO TRUTH AND RESTORATIVE JUSTICEMiriam College President's statement on the issue of inappropriate…

Posted by Miriam College (formerly Maryknoll) on Thursday, June 25, 2020

 

‘Do better’ 

The statement of Miriam came after Rep. Sarah Elago (Kabataan Party-list) urged the private school to “promptly” investigate the  student harassment and pedophilia allegations amid “#MCHSDOBETTER” tweets that gained traction on social media this week.

The hashtag, in which part of it means “Miriam College High School,” included accounts of students who claimed to be harassed by some male teachers.

RELATED: ‘Let’s hear the students’: Sarah Elago urges Miriam College to probe reports on alleged student harassment

Elago also urged other schools to speak up about similar abuses as more students and alumni claimed to have experienced such cases under the hashtags #MARISCIDOBETTER, #STCDOBETTER and #SPCPSQUAREUP.

“Stand with the students and alumni who are coming forward with their stories of struggles, and collectively speaking out against sexual harassment and abuse!” she tweeted.

In view of this, Time’s Up Ateneo, a coalition of students, alumni, faculty and parents from Ateneo de Manila University, also urged the schools “to keep sexual predators away from the classroom” and cautioned against attempts to silence those who will be or have opened up about the issue.

Some of the schools mentioned by the coalition were Miriam College High SchoolMarikina Science High School, Quezon City Science High School, St. Theresa’s College, St. Paul College Pasig, and Bulacan State University Laboratory High School, among others.

The coalition said that students have taken it to social media to “express their anger and discontent with the way that their respective school administrations have dealt with predatory behavior among faculty.”

It added that there were also “other concerns related to gender-based violence (such as homophobia and transphobia) and the trivialization of mental health issues.”

“As the students from MCHS have asserted, our schools now have no choice but to do better. Time’s up for sexual violence and impunity!” the coalition said.

Time’s Up Ateneo stands with the growing number of high school students and alumni across the country who have been…

Posted by Time's Up Ateneo on Thursday, June 25, 2020

 

Elago asked the public to support “more age and development-appropriate education, dialogues, discussion, information campaigns on combatting sexual harassment and abuse in schools with learning community, teachers, parents, guardians and whole campus workforce.”

She said that the Kabataan Party-list will be “filing another resolution seeking probe into schools procedures for investigation of sexual harassment cases and corresponding administrative sanctions” as mandated in Republic Act 7877 or the Anti-Sexual Harassment Act of 1995.

“Kaugnay po nito ay ang pagpapalakas ng mga mekanismo upang labanan ang online sexual abuse and exploitation of children and women. #ShutdownOSEC ay mahalaga relatibong mas maraming oras ang ginugugol online para sa edukasyon at trabaho,” Elago added.

Punishable under laws

The Anti-Sexual Harassment Act of 1995 prohibits sexual harassment in educational institutions, particularly those committed:

  • Against one who is under the care, custody or supervision of the offender;
  • Against one whose education, training, apprenticeship or tutorship is entrusted to the offender;

Sexual favors made with a condition that includes the “giving of a passing grade, or the granting of honors and scholarships, or the payment of a stipend, allowance or other benefits, privileges, or considerations” are also prohibited.

The law also states that if sexual advances “result in an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment for the student, trainee or apprentice,” the individual can be penalized.

Republic Act 11313 or the Safe Spaces Act also requires schools to “promptly investigate” sexual harassment allegations “even if an individual does not want to file a complaint or does not request that the school take any action on behalf of a student, staff, or faculty member.”

It states that schools must be able to “determine the veracity of such information or knowledge and the circumstances under which the act of GBSH (gender-based sexual harassment) or sexual violence were committed, and take appropriate steps to resolve the situation.”