Hazing must be stopped
The recent death of a UST law student who was a neophyte of Aegis Juris fraternity is a shocking story. It shouldn’t happen
because the alumni who are faculty members of UST are lawyers who teach law, and the collegiate members are law students who are learning the law. Therefore, it is expected that they will not violate Republic Act No. 8049 or the Anti-Hazing Law.
Initiation is a mandatory requirement for joining a fraternity. I know it because I am a founder of an international fraternity in the Philippines, the Sigma Alpha Epsilon. Initiation rites test neophytes on their mental, psychological, and social characteristics in accordance with the fraternity’s standard. But it is not to test the applicant’s physical resilience. In fact, physical contact is not allowed during initiation. But unfortunately, hazing is now the ultimate test during initiation. The worst thing that can happen is if the fraternity has no approved implementing rules and regulations for initiation. Thus, any initiator can make up any form of hazing under the guise of initiation that may cause bodily harm or death.
On the other hand, hazing shouldn’t be a problem if only the fraternity and the school are responsible enough to prevent the harming of neophytes. No fraternity should be allowed to operate in a school without having been officially recognized. The school must issue an ordinance to guide such organizations in the conduct of initiation rites and should prevent body contact during initiation or hazing.
RA 8049 is very clear on hazing. Section 2 mandates that no hazing or initiation rites in any form or manner by a fraternity shall be allowed without prior written notice to school authorities seven days before the conduct of such initiation. The written notice shall indicate the period of initiation activities which shall not exceed three days, shall include the names of those to be subjected to such activities, and shall further contain an undertaking that no physical violence be employed by anybody during such initiation rites.
Section 3 of the Act emphasizes that the head of the school must assign at least two representatives to be present during the initiation. It is the duty of such representative to see to it
that no physical harm of any kind shall be inflicted on a neophyte.
The penalties prescribed by the Act are already harsh. But these penalties are only directed toward individual violators. Maybe it can help if the fraternity violating the Act can be severely punished and disallowed to operate in the school. If it continues underground without school recognition, alumni and collegiate members may be disqualified from the school as employees and students, respectively. The violation may also result in expulsion.
Additionally, any amendment to RA 8049 must require the Department of Education and the Commission on Higher Education to issue implementing rules and regulations to support the implementation of the Act.
ARSENIO UNAJAN BAQUILID, founder, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, [email protected]
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