A wake-up call

Silliman University recently reinforced existing rules against hazing, shortly after Guillo Ceasar Servando, a sophomore of De La Salle-College of St. Benilde, died due to injuries he sustained during initiation rites of the Tau Gamma Phi Fraternity.

The guidelines of Student Organizations and Activities Division (SOAD) for the holding of initiation or acceptance rites by fraternities, sororities, and organizations are based mainly on Republic Act 8049 which is known as the Anti- Hazing Law.

SOAD which already prohibits freshmen from joining such groups now requires, in accordance with the law, the submission of a written notice, including a copy of the detailed acceptance rites program, which must not exceed three days, and a list of names of all participants, both current members and applicants, in order to secure a permit for acceptance rites. However, the SOAD guidelines do not specify that the written notice should be given seven days before conducting the rites, as required by the law.

The SOAD guidelines state that the rites should be witnessed by an adviser and two other university representatives but does not mention that their job, as required by the law, is to ensure that there is no physical violence. If university representatives are present and if they oversee the rites properly, it is unlikely that there will be any hazing. In the case of Servando, no representative from his school was around.

R.A. 8049 also requires fraternities, sororities, and organizations to make a formal promise in writing that there will be no physical violence of any sort during the rites. This requirement was missing from the SOAD guidelines.

It is good however that although such is not required by the law, SU wants all acceptance rites to be done inside the campus where hazing is less likely to happen. In the case of Servando, the hazing occurred in a house outside his school campus. SU is taking action to protect its students, so that what happened to the student of St. Benilde will not happen to a student in SU. After all, even though the law would not hold SU liable if somebody dies due to hazing, it would still be morally responsible for it.

R.A. 8049 did not prevent the death of Servando and the 19 others who, according to Dean Andy Bautista in his Philippine Star column, “My Four Centavos”, have also died as a result of hazing since it was enacted in 1995. It is obvious then that enacting a law will not end hazing deaths.

Philippine Star, in a separate article, listed the names of 22 students from 15 to 25 years old who died because of hazing from 2000 to 2014. Several of them were students of prestigious schools like the University of the Philippines-Diliman, Ateneo Law School, and the Philippine Military Academy. Thankfully, not one of them was from SU. Through the strict implementation of the SOAD guidelines and the Anti-Hazing Law itself, and of course, with the full cooperation of the fraternities, sororities, and organizations, we hope and pray that no Sillimanian will ever be included in the list.

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