A Real Contemporary Problem: Fraternity Deaths and Violence

Imagine a picture of an ideal university, Lush green surroundings, modernized facilities, eccentric and highly recognized  professors stuttering about, carefully selected students with their own caliber to boast, chatting freely in the grounds and the basic motto of “Honor and Excellence”  hanging in the air.

This irrefutable university exists as the very epitome of academic excellence. Future leaders of the society gather around this acropolis. This is where bright promising young minds clash and mesh to form a boulder that will serve as the structural foundation of the country within the next years to come.

However, beneath this beautiful facade lies a different picture. Behind the curtains of lies and deception is a whole different story unveiled.  Behind these walls whispers a cry of injustice and a desperate plea for the destruction of a system that had long been bound by wealth and power.

On the 27 of August on the same year, three cars dropped off a badly beaten body of a boy to the hospital. His name was Chris Mendez, a student in his last year of college about to graduate with a degree of Public Administration and Governance. Minutes later, he was pronounced dead, hopes for a better life for his family died along with him.

University of the Philippines offers the best facilities for educational attainment in the country. With the country paying most of the needed expenses through subsidies, students who accumulate their knowledge there are called “Scholars of the Nation.”

The University is famous for the outstanding graduates they produce. This is where the phrase “freedom of speech” comes from. Students in the UP are known for their rallies against social injustices and corruption existing in the government.  There is also one other thing that they are known for.

University of the Philippines hosts a lot of Student Organizations. From academics, sports, common interests, they have it all, and that includes fraternities and sororities (Arrowsmith, 2004). All student organizations has a form of Rights of Acceptance, it will be forever imbued in the social and political culture of the school. Most of these initiation rights include hazing.

The 20 year old Chris Mendez, was not the only who became the victim of hazing and other frat-related deaths and violence. Hazing, as part of the university’s tradition in acceptance had victims who suffered physically and mentally.

RA 8049, also known as the Anti-Hazing states the definition of hazing as a practice in a prerequisite for acceptance and placing the applicant in a mortifying situation such as  coercing  him to do menial, foolish and other similar tasks or activities.

Yet it does not take effect until, the neophyte suffers from bruises, injuries or even worse, death.  As a proof, not one of the student organizations has or had been arrested for merely shouting at an applicant in front of many people or hurling hurtful words that demeans the student as a person.

Worse, even the administration itself is practicing these traditional rights of acceptance. AR Santiago, the son of former Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago committed suicide after being turned down in his application study in the UP College of Law.

The panel was reported to use cruel ways in interviewing applicants, even asking in an underhanded way of how he can cope with an insane lady for a mother (Arrowsmith, 2004).

Such injustice had been happening and would not have been noticed if a senator’s son hadn’t died. Up to now the law of the jungle where the strong crushes the weak occurs. It is instilled in the values of the University ‘s organizations and even in some of the administration that these archaic ways are the solution for the students to be prepared for the real world ahead, that indeed connections and power and wealth for position does exist.

The Band of Brothers

The word fraternity is defined (Encarta, 2007) as an organization formed to enhance the social, academic, professional or personal interests of members.  Its word comes from the Latin word “frater” meaning brother.

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