A perennial problem in colleges

WE LEARNED of another hazing-related death. The victim was a Philippine Military Academy cadet who died inside his barracks at Fort Del Pilar in Baguio City on Wednesday.

The late Ilongga senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago wanted to implement stricter penalties against hazing. She suggested that Congress study whether the entire fraternity from which a victim surfaces should either be sanctioned with a hefty penalty or with dissolution, and check if it is sufficient that the law punishes only those members behind the act, or should also punish the entire organization itself for patronizing and perpetuating hazing violence.

We do not know what happened to the good senator’s suggestions to colleagues in Congress. But she had one practical advice – that school authorities conduct regular dialogues with fraternities and sororities on their initiation processes.

Hazing is really becoming a perennial problem in colleges and universities and is preying on our promising students. Authorities should immediately go after the perpetrators and should not allow the power and influence of the fraternities to get into the implementation of justice.

Although Republic Act 8049 was passed years ago, it appears to have no teeth. Section 2 of the Anti-Hazing Law provides that, “[n]o hazing or initiation rites shall be allowed without written notice to the school authorities or head of organization seven days before the conduct of such initiation.”

The law also mandates that the school head or the organization should assign at least two representatives of the school organization “to see to it that no physical harm of any kind shall be inflicted upon a recruit, neophyte, or applicant.”

Affirming its first ever conviction under Republic Act 8049 four years ago, the Supreme Court stated that the Anti-Hazing Law “is a democratic response to the uproar against hazing. It demonstrates that there must, and should, be another way of fostering brotherhood, other than through the culture of violence and suffering.” It is actually a condemnation of hazing that goes beyond the spirit of fraternal brotherhood.

It’s possible there are numerous unreported incidents of hazing violence since the passage of the law, so there’s a need to revisit it and make it a more efficient tool to stop the violence. Or is the problem in the implementation?

It is clear that there should be stricter monitoring of fraternities, especially those that have a track record of excessive initiation violence.


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