UP Visayas fraternity in hot water over lewd group chat

Bianca Dava, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 02 2020 03:45 AM | Updated as of Jul 02 2020 03:53 PM

MANILA (UPDATE) - A fraternity based in the University of the Philippines Visayas is in hot water after supposed private conversations among some of its members were leaked online.

Screenshots of conversations attributed to members of the Scintilla Jvris Fraternity have gone viral for sexually objectifying and homophobic content. The chatbox showed members sharing nude photos of women, some allegedly exes and friends of the fraternity brothers.

Some of the conversations also included lewd comments about their sorority sisters from the Stella Juris Sorority.

It also featured the members describing gay people as “snowflakes.” The term is considered insulting as it means “too easily upset and offended.”

In one of the conversations, a member even referenced the time when the Upsilon Sigma Phi fraternity went viral after their group chats leaked in 2018. It was dubbed as #LonsiLeaks.

Scintilla Jvris said it would conduct its own investigation into the viral conversations and apologized to those who were harassed by the actions of its members.

“Last June 30, a Twitter account exposed malicious conversations of a group of UPV SJ members in a Facebook chat group. We sincerely apologize to those who were harassed/violated by the actions taken by members involved,” the fraternity said in a statement.

“UPV Scintilla Jvris denounces misogyny, sexual violence and homophobia. We are already taking action. A fact-finding committee and disciplinary action committee were already created to ensure accountability at the soonest possible time.”

Stella Juris said it “strongly condemns all forms of harassment and blatant disrespect against minors and people regardless of gender affinity.”

“There is no place to justify nor tolerate any malicious conduct identified by Twitter account Manyaks of UPV and allegedly committed by certain individuals who were identified as members of UP Scintilla Juris fraternity,” it added.

The UP Visayas Office of the Chancellor condemned the “boorish and discreditable behavior” of the students and said it was now investigating the matter.

"The University strives to promote and ptotect the rights of everyone. We will not tolerate any form of harassment or attack against anybody. We are committed to ensuring that UP Visayas remains a safe space for all," it said.

It also called on the UP community whose rights have been violated to get in touch with the Anti-Sexual Harassment Office or Office of Student Affairs.

VICTIMS TO PRESS CHARGES

The victims said they would take legal action against those involved in the group chat.

“We’re taking legal actions. We’re filing an official complaint, collective complaints. Marami pang nagka-come out against them,” said Mina, a victim.

Mina also told women and members of the LGBT community who have experienced the same harassment: “Sa mga babaeng takot pang mag come out ng experiences, I know it’s very hard kasi pwedeng mavictim-blame at maslut-shame. But you are not alone. Kaya sana maging matapang din kayo. Tayo-tayo lang din magtutulung-tulungan.”

Lisa, who was friends and classmates with some of the members of the group, slammed how the fraternity brothers sexualized women, some of whom are also her close friends.

“Masakit kasi kilala ko ang mga tao na pinaguusapan nila, mga kaibigan ko sila. Kilala ko ang mga taong nag-uusap, kakilala mo. Hindi mo masasabi na hindi nila maiintindihan. Akala namin safe space namin ang UP,” Lisa said.

Another victim, Savanna, also came forward with her own experience of sexual harassment.

She was also not spared from the group chat, and shared how frustrating it was that victim-blaming still existed.

“Nanlalamig ang kamay ko nung nabasa ko ang screenshots about me. Nakakagalit kasi hindi lang pala ako yung minamanyakan nila. Yung ibang girls naobjectify din not just from that frat, but from other men din,” Savanna told ABS-CBN News.

“It’s so low and so unfair. (JC) Yung guy napi-praise pero ang babae nasa-slut-shame. Frustrating na ganun ang nangyayari, 2020 na,” she added.

Many others also called for legal action against the members in the chat, most of whom have already graduated from the university.

Members of political organization Sandigan ng Mag-aaral para sa Sambayanan (SAMASA) were also involved in the group chat.

The group said it does not condone any form of sexual violence and discriminatory acts and that it would "implement the necessary disciplinary sanctions to hold the members accountable for their actions."