Student can graduate: USJ-R-A A +A
Friday, February 8, 2013
SHE will be allowed to graduate next month for as long as she meets the requirements to complete her course.
Officials of the University of San Jose-Recoletos (USJ-R) announced yesterday that they will allow the female student involved in a sex video to graduate and attend the graduation rites if she wants to, provided that she complies with all the graduation requirements.
“Once she is able to complete the academic requirements of her course and comply with the necessary procedure for graduation, she will graduate,” the university’s official statement said, which USJ-R president Rev. Fr. Enrico Peter Silab, OAR, read at a press conference yesterday morning.
Silab said the school officials have been aware of the video since last month and have taken steps to help Marie (real name withheld) cope with the situation.
He said that even before the Sinulog, they were already thinking of what could be done to help her.
In their statement, the administration said that out of concern for Marie, they decided to conduct exclusive classes outside the school for her.
Arrangements were reportedly made for Marie to report to her professors outside the classroom for her lessons.
She was also allowed to continue her internship and set her thesis defense as scheduled.
“Measures to ensure that she would finish her course with the minimum amount of exposure, so as to protect her privacy, were immediately put in place,” the statement read.
But soon after the Sinulog, Silab said the video circulated among cell phone and internet users.
“It was a little blown up when it was spread. Our actions were overshadowed by the controversy and some misread our silence. But even before this video spread, we were already planning what could be done for the welfare of the student,” he said during a press conference in university’s conference room.
Student Affairs Office (SAO) director Jesus Velez said no disciplinary action had been imposed on Marie yet as they are still investigating the incident.
“As of now, we are more concerned about her welfare and what can be done. The trauma, shame and depression are already huge consequences she is facing now. We cannot add more to the frustration,” Velez said.
Silab’s announcement that Marie will be allowed to graduate drew cheers and applause from the students who watched the press conference on a widescreen set up at the school lobby.
The school officials were also lauded by a women’s protection group for their stand on the issue.
Silab encouraged the students, personnel and staff of the university, and said: “The incident does not define what and who we are.
But it does present us with the opportunity to show to the rest of the world that we are courageous in dealing with issues such as this.”
Other school officials who joined the press conference were Rev. Fr. Amado Emmanuel Bolilia, OAR, vice president for academics; lawyer Jesus Velez, director of student affairs; lawyer Jonathan Capanas, dean of the School of Law; and lawyer Mae Elaine T. Bathan, assistant dean of the School of Law and the university legal counsel.
Before the press conference, Silab officiated a mass inside the school, which students and school employees attended.
One of the questions asked during the conference was whether the school officials preferred that the university’s name be withheld considering the sensitivity of the issue.
“Let it be. We became prouder of being a Josenian as we’re able to face a challenge like this,” Silab replied.
The USJ-R administration admitted that aside from Marie’s case, they also had to deal with other students who were ridiculed, bullied and harassed in public because of the incident.
The harassment prompted school officials to suspend last Monday the wearing of uniforms. The suspension will be lifted on Monday.
“The school is ready, willing and able to provide legal assistance through lawyers to those who bring forth a complaint against the oppressed Josenian caused by the incident,” said Silab.
He added they will also coordinate with the authorities for the investigation on who might have uploaded and spread the video online and among cell phone users.
On Wednesday, Marie surfaced and granted media interviews at the office of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) 7 to express her side.
She told reporters that she does not regret what happened, because what she and her boyfriend that time did was supposed to be a private moment.
“We never thought that it would circulate. Being human, we make mistakes,” Marie said during the interview.
Marie defended her ex-boyfriend, saying that his cell phone containing their videos got lost two years ago.
“We broke up two years ago. When we made that video, we decided to delete it, of course, but my boyfriend forgot to delete them until his phone got lost,” she said.
Yesterday, police operatives continued to monitor the circulation of copies of the sex video, as pro-life advocates and a women’s protection group urged authorities to strictly implement laws to protect the students involved in the controversial video.
Dr. Rene Bullecer, Human Life International country director, said the male and female students in the video are victims of a society adept with the use of high-tech gadgets.
“We call on the authorities responsible, the schools to remind (their students) of rules and regulations (that they have to follow) especially when they wear their uniforms and IDs,” Bullecer told reporters.
In a separate statement, Gabriela-Cebu called the controversy over the spread of the sex video of two students as a form of violence against women.
“Sexual objectification and discrimination, slut-shaming, and spreading of sex videos inflict incalculable emotional trauma to women victims,” the group said.
“The question to ask is not whether the actors in the video were right or wrong to do what they did. The question to ask is whether we are directly or indirectly aiding violence to the woman victim and the general female student populace of Cebu,” they added.
The women’s group also commended the USJ-R community for “uniting against the unfair social backlash generated by the so-called sex scandal.”
Local government units and civil society in general were encouraged to work together to stop the spread of the video.
Gabriela also took note of the jeering and insults hurled at students in social media sites and in jeepneys.
“Let us unlearn the holier than thou attitude and refrain from pronouncing judgments on the woman, or even the university’s students in general,” Gabriela-Cebu said.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 08, 2013.