In late June, the hashtag #MCHSDoBetter exploded on Twitter, carrying with it stories of teachers showing inappropriate behavior to students within the halls of
the all-girls institution, Miriam College High School in Quezon City. There were screenshots of inappropriate messages, anecdotes of alleged harassment, and stories of teachers pursuing relationships with minors.
The school responded by convening a Committee on Truth and Justice to review and resolve the reported cases. According to a statement from Miriam College released today, the school held a series of town hall meetings in July to get more feedback and formulate concrete programs and policies that would ensure safe spaces at each campus level. The meetings were participated in by school administrators, faculty, alumni, Student Council members from different academic levels, and office employees from both its Quezon City and Nuvali campuses.
In response to the controversial tweets, the school requested last June 29 for all aggrieved parties to report the incidents of sexual harassment to the email address, firstname.lastname@example.org. The Truth and Justice Committee, chaired by lawyer and UP College of Law professor, Atty. Ma. Gabriela “Gaby” Concepcion, is now waiting for the complaints to be completed so they can act on the concerns while observing due process. The independent committee is mandated to recommend sanctions for those found guilty of inappropriate behavior.
Other members of the Committee are clinical psychologist Dr. Maria Lourdes “Honey” Carandang; Corporate and Data Privacy Law specialist, Atty. Maria Resa “Sam” Celiz; Maryknoll Sister, Teresa “Sr. TD” Dagdag, MM; executive director of the Ateneo Human Rights Center, Ray Paolo “Arpee” Santiago; and former Presidential Human Rights Committee member and Human Rights Law and Constitutional Law professor, Rene Sarmiento.
Initiated by the school’s Institutional Committee on Ethics and Protocol (ICEP), the town hall meetings allowed community members to openly share and articulate their understanding of safe spaces. Special focus was placed on processes that would allow students to report cases of sexual harassment without fear or judgment.
The ICEP, according to the Miriam College statement, is now gathering and studying the results of the meetings to serve as basis for new school policies, processes, programs, and practices that will be integrated into handbooks and other relevant platforms for students, faculty, and employees.
“Recent developments opened our eyes to the need to listen and seek the truth behind the stories of harassment in our campus,” said Amb. Laura Quiambao-Del Rosario, Miriam College President. “The welfare of our students is paramount to us and the first step in our efforts to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future is to look inward and get the consensus of our community about causes and solutions to the past situation. The town hall meetings were crucial to hear out observations, opinions and recommendations to create and maintain Safe Space in our institution, moving forward.”