UST admin on ‘victim-blaming’ case: Facts don’t match

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The student center building lobby. File photo by Basilio H. Sepe

THE UNIVERSITY administration has issued a statement on a viral Facebook post that accused its disciplinary board of “victim-blaming” a College of Fine Arts and Design (CFAD) junior who claims to be a victim of harassment, saying the allegations on social media and results of the investigation did not match.

While UST declined to disclose details, citing the confidential nature of disciplinary cases, it said due process was observed.

“We have investigated the administrative case involving the sister of Mr. Geo Celestino but unfortunately, the facts and evidence that Mr. Geo Celestino posted in his Facebook account do not conform to the records on file,” said the statement posted on UST’s social media accounts on Jan. 31.

“The University is under obligation to maintain and keep the confidentiality of student discipline cases; hence, it is with deep regret that it cannot reveal any details of the case except to say that the due process requirements under the law and jurisprudence were observed and duly complied with,” the statement read.

On Jan. 29, Geo Celestino, brother of the CFAD junior, took to Facebook and lashed out at the UST Student Welfare and Development Board (SWDB) for imposing sanctions on his sister but not on the fifth-year male engineering student who allegedly made advances on her in a public transportation vehicle in July 2016.

READ: SWDB under fire for alleged ‘victim-blaming’

The SWDB proceedings were apparently triggered by a complaint from the engineering student that the CFAD junior made false claims of harassment against him on Twitter.

Celestino said his sister posted on Twitter a photo of the engineering student taken from inside the UV Express van they rode on their way home from school. The CFAD junior was ordered to take down the photo and make a public apology on the social networking site, Celestino said.

Celestino admitted to breaking a promise to his sister to keep the matter private, but said he was triggered by the SWDB’s “Notice of Resolution” that required their parents’ signatures. His sister, he said, didn’t want their parents to know about it.

The CFAD junior did not file a complaint for harassment, but maintains the engineering student made advances on her. Celestino said his family would seek legal advice on what to do next.

The Central Student Council also issued a statement on Jan. 31, appealing to the public “to comprehend the situation as a whole, and to not merely presume and conclude based on a single standpoint.”

The CSC said it would launch a thorough investigation into the incident and attached a flowchart of procedures involving disciplinary cases to guide students.

The CSC, however, has no direct role in disciplinary proceedings based on its own flowchart.

“UST-CSC will do everything in its power in the event that there will be such situations of injustice in order to ensure that everyone’s right to due process will not be denied,” it said.

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