I SOLEMNLY SWEAR that I am up to no good. The College of Arts and Sciences’ (CAS) Student Council (SC) General Elections was nothing short of a spectacle. It raises questions about sexual harassment, gender discrimination, and calls for the need for the enforcement of the Safe Space Act. As things start to cool down, let us take a walk down memory lane and dissect the explosive event. Our goal is not to point fingers but rather to see what needs to be done and call the attention of the authorities and demand action.
During the #BotoBedista2023 Miting de Avance (MDA) and Election Debates last May 11, both standard-bearers of the Nationalist Youth and Progressive Democrats (NYPD) and the San Bigkis Party (SBP) traded blows on each other’s character. Arlene Sol, the SBP presidential candidate and former SC Secretary-General, questioned Kurt Casano, the NYPD presidential candidate and former SC Third Year Batch Representative, on his use of the SC office. She then accused Casano and his “friends” of littering all over the office.
As a response, Casano dropped a bomb with his own accusation. He claimed that he caught Sol with his boyfriend, Dominic Salonga, who is also running for Third Year Batch Representative under SBP, “in the act” inside the SC office. Tension started to fill the air as Casano’s accusation garnered an uproar.
Due to Casano’s allegations, many start to raise questions regarding the safe space act. uring the Audience Forum segment of the MDA, several attendees brought up the issue by raising Republic Act (R.A.) No. 11313 or the “Safe Spaces Act” addresses and penalizes gender-based sexual harassment in streets, public spaces, online, workplaces, and educational or training institutions.
Further, the online response also escalated quickly especially after photos of Sol in the precinct circulated. Many aired their dismay regarding the incident while some used the issue to throw personal attacks against Casano. Granted there is no denying that Casano’s allegations merit such reaction especially since the MDA is neither the place nor time for him to drop such an accusation.
However, some is also of the opinion that the issue was thrown out of proportion. Some also said that the public’s response was merely due to the fact that allegations were dropped by a man against a woman. Raising that a double standard against men was also at play.
Regardless of who was the victim, whether it’s Sol who was slut shamed in public or Casano who was bullied for the double standards he faced, there is one issue many cannot deny — students no longer feel safe in the campus. The incident brought to light how words can easily destroy one’s character. And if the administration refuses to act on this, students will continue to be at the mercy of sexual harassment, whether it is against a man or woman. There is a clear need for the enforcement of the Safe Space Act. And hopefully, this MDA fiasco will be the last of such Donnybrook.
I’ve said my piece so I say “mischief managed!”