In its efforts to realize a vision of the campus as a safe space, the UP Center for Women’s and Gender Studies (UPCWGS) has collaborated with the UP Fighting Maroons Men’s Basketball Team (MBT) and the UP Pep Squad in a campaign denouncing all forms of sexism, misogyny, and violence against women (VAW).
With its goal of making the University of the Philippines the nation’s role model for other colleges and universities, the UPCWGS, together with the College of Human Kinetics (CHK), the UP MBT, and the UP Pep Squad launched the #SafeCampusTo: UP Fight Against VAW campaign on March 23, Saturday at 10 am at the UP Diliman Quezon Hall steps.
“Atin ‘to” was the rallying cry of Paul “Kapitan” Desiderio that turned into a chant accompanying the UP Fighting Maroons Men’s Basketball Team as they secured a spot in the UAAP Season 81 finals – a historic event the UP community had waited 32 years for. The Pep Squad ng Bayan, the UP Pep Squad, has a long record of exhibiting “Utak at Puso” with a record of 20 podium finishes in the UAAP Cheerdance competition and is known for incorporating social advocacies in its performances. Its unforgettable 2014 Equality routine promoted empowerment and equality across all genders.
The UPCWGS held collaborative seminar workshops on gender sensitivity, sexual harassment, and VAW with the UP MBT and the UP Pep Squad as part of its celebration of National Women’s Month. The members of the two varsity teams were then asked to craft their own messages of support. These messages will be used in banners that will be displayed along the UP University Avenue and the UP Academic Oval.
Dr. Eloi Hernandez, one of the convenors of the campaign, emphasized that, “The need to convene the entire UP System to discuss these matters and to come up with a strong platform towards anti-sexual harassment and anti-violence against women is a must.”
Bright Akhuete of the UP Basketball team asserted, “No means No. That’s plain and simple. There is a need to respect the rights of the women and the rights of the LGBTQI community, not just inside UP, but also within our own homes and communities. Respect for diversity in gender leads to a violence-free community.”
“We need to start cultivating a culture where [people]…. should be more aware of the diversity and complexity of… gender. Awareness leads to understanding. Understanding leads to respect. Respect leads to collaborative efforts in creating a safe space for everyone,” said Mika Sales and Maegan Cabrera from the UP Varsity Pep Squad.
Also pledging his support, Dean Kiko Diaz of the UP College of Human Kinetics professed, “Definitely, we in the College of Human Kinetics will support and continue to support all efforts to protect women and any gender against all forms of violence and bullying… We have many female varsity athletes in the college, particularly those who are performing, being subjected to cat calling. We cannot condone those kinds of acts.”
For Dr. Nathalie Africa-Verceles, Director of the UP Center for Women’s and Gender Studies, this campaign serves as “a strong reiteration of the long-standing commitment of the University of the Philippines to campuses that are safe from any form of gender-based violence and a way of urging all members of the UP community to unite and work together to end VAW.” (Vince Hermoso, UP Center for Women’s and Gender Studies)