Castillo hazing: Wake-up call for OSA

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SCHOOL policies are made to guide the student body about proper campus behavior and decorum. But with the recent hazing incident, the University’s student protocols have been exposed to be inadequate or mismanaged.

The University is in hot water after officials admitted they were not aware of the hazing rites practiced by the Aegis Juris Fraternity following the death of Law freshman Horacio “Atio” Castillo III.

It turned out that the University has not given special attention to and kept watch over fraternities, despite their historically notorious predisposition toward conducting hazing and violent initiation rites.

Worse, despite the law against hazing, the Office for Student Affairs (OSA) has not formulated or evolved regulations all these years to better police fraternities and stop them from doing anything remotely connected with hazing that’s not only conduct unbecoming of a student but also illegal and criminally unlawful.

In the Code of Conduct of the UST Student Handbook, hazing is mentioned under the Maintenance of Peace and Order section, which supposedly prohibits students from engaging in any hazing or brawls on or off the campus. The Anti-Hazing Law is attached to the handbook as an appendix. No other mention of initiation rites or fraternities is made in the handbook.

In contrast, the University of the Philippines-Diliman’s 2012 Code of Student Conduct specifies hazing as a serious offense; officers and members involved in the hazing will be subject to expulsion. Offenders will also be disqualified from registration in UP for at least five years. The student (or neophyte) who subjects himself to hazing shall also be suspended and will undergo counseling.

The UP-Diliman code also makes it clear that freshmen are not allowed to join fraternities. Those who will accept a student who has not completed the residency requirement of one academic year will be subject to suspension for one semester. Admitting two or more recruits would subject fraternities to one academic year suspension and even expulsion.

At De la Salle University, all officers of an organization are considered liable once hazing is committed. La Salle’s 2015-2018 student handbook states that hazing is considered a major offense subject to probation, suspension, nonreadmission, or expulsion.

Civil Law Student Welfare and Development Board, in a memorandum dated Feb. 24, 2017, ordered a stop to the recruitment of fraternities of freshmen. According to the memo posted on Facebook, this was to give the freshman time to better check the organizations trying to recruit them.

But the Varsitarian did not see the actual memo and couldn’t corroborate Divina’s claim. Nor could it confirm if the memo had been posted on the Civil Law bulletin board or circulated officially and properly.

In any case, according to the memo, violation of the new rule would be sanctioned according to the UST Student Handbook, which is, as we’ve said, generally mum on fraternities and fraternityrelated violations.

The OSA has generally busied itself with paper work, requiring all student organizations to apply for recognition every year, including organizations to which students are affiliated according to their academic programs (UST Biology Society, Political Science Forum, etc.)

Do academic organizations really need OSA recognition? Wouldn’t the college administration be in a better position to accredit them?

We don’t really know the logic to all of this red tape save for the tired reason that the bureaucracy is selfperpetuating. Bureaucrats would like to be seen busy and officious, the better to improve their chances at being perpetuated in their jobs and their paychecks.

UST has prided itself with earning “quality management” certifications, but if one looks at the mountains of papers that a student organization must submit to the OSA every year— and the long list of signatories who must affix their names— just to renew OSA recognition, it appears that the certifications are mere, er, paper? (Or perhaps the certifications are not really for “quality” but for “quantity management”?)

Therefore, the Castillo hazing tragedy should be a wake-up call. At the least it should show that the OSA has busied itself with merely peripheral concerns and even encroached on the prerogatives of college administrations in an instance of overextension. In the meantime, the OSA has overlooked a more important concern and not done its job: to check fraternity violence.

Mark Welson Chua

It is not as if this is only the first time that UST is confronted with the issue.

In 2001, Mechanical Engineering student Mark Welson Chua was killed after revealing the corruption in the Reserved Officers’ Training Corps, which included hazing.

Five years before, in 1995, the anti-hazing law had been passed.

More than two decades after the law was passed and the Chua killing took place, UST still does not have a firm policy and regulation on fraternities and hazing.

Father Rector Herminio Dagohoy, O.P, has vowed to improve the rules of the University on fraternities and sororities, noting that it is “high time” for the University to “revisit” the rules. We welcome the development and urge everyone in the Thomasian community to declare, “Amen!”

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