Despite the increasing calls to release a statement and abolish SOGIE-restrictive policies in the university, SAMAHAN and the Office of Student Affairs (OSA) have not publicly addressed the concern since the dress code policy for trans students article.
SAMAHAN president Chyna Legaspina told Atenews that they have been in constant conversation with OSA, requesting to schedule a meeting to address the issue. However, Legaspina explained that OSA has repeatedly postponed it, citing reasons such as the recently conducted Buklod Atenista Mid-Year Conference.
“One of the things that we are waiting for before we release a statement is we still do not know what will happen during our conversation with OSA. We don’t know if they are still positive or if they will help us throughout the whole process of amending the policy,” the SAMAHAN president said when asked why SAMAHAN remains silent on the issue in their social media accounts.
The SAMAHAN president also stated that not releasing public announcements or statements is believed to be SAMAHAN’s way of avoiding creating walls or barriers between the organization and OSA.
“If we really do go against OSA with this matter, it will be even harder for us to communicate with them. For them, it will look like SAMAHAN is becoming their enemy when that is not really our intention in this matter,” she said.
“We want to collaborate and really work with them throughout this concern. So that is why we are really creating good relationships with the Office of the Student Affairs because that is the only way we can lobby all of our concerns.”
Legaspina also shared that SAMAHAN had proposed alternatives in their initial meeting with OSA, where the office did not express support for other leeways from uniform regulations that SAMAHAN had lobbied for. However, OSA granted a one-week period for students to wear their preferred uniform upon SAMAHAN’s proposal of temporarily suspending the uniform requirement.
Beyond their public social media spaces, Legaspina said that they were not keeping quiet about the issue as she was keeping her constituents and SAMAHAN officers updated on their progress in reaching out to OSA.
SAMAHAN Students’ Rights and Welfare Assistant Head Aaliyah Quiñanola indicated that the OSA, the implementing body of school policies, must re-publicize the handbook’s laws.
“I think that’s also the one of the recommendations, kung pwede sana ipa re-publicize ng OSA ang kanilang mga policies because according to the bill of rights of the students, sa SAMAHAN constitution, basically the students have the right to know about the policies of OSA.”
Following Legaspina’s statements, Rise for Education’s (R4E) Jericko Espina emphasized that while maintaining a relationship with OSA is essential, what matters even more is SAMAHAN’s relationship with the students.
“Kung representante talaga tayo ng mga estudyante dito sa AdDU, edi dapat yung concerns, demands, and interests ng mga students talaga yung pinu-push natin. Hindi talaga dapat tayo naghihintay sa ano ang sasabihin ng OSA.”
Mindanawon Anthropological Society of the Ateneo’s (MASA) Grace Solante also stated that despite having numerous opportunities, SAMAHAN is falling short in reaching out to students and creating movements, urging them to refocus on serving the student body.
“You had a lot of chance to really reach out to the student, and I feel like that’s what’s lacking in the movement. Honestly speaking, it’s good that you are doing a relationship with OSA, you’re doing communications with them, but really go back to who you are serving for, the students.”
According to SAMAHAN, they will be holding a multisectoral meeting regarding the issue this September 22, to which OSA and representatives of the affected sectors are invited.
Alliance of Ateneans for the Protection of LGBTQIA+ Rights
As an initiative of R4E, an Alliance of Ateneans for the Protection of LGBTQIA+ Rights was established to urge the student government to take a stand on the issue and push them to support student-led movements, removing the policy and making the university more inclusive, among others.
An 8-point Gender Demands Proposal, a proposal to OSA, was created to mobilize students to participate in the campaign for the removal of dress code restrictions and the promotion of a gender-affirming and SOGIESC-sensitive uniform policy within the university.
As of writing, the alliance’s petition signing efforts have garnered nearly 300 signatures. Espina stated that if they could mobilize participation from other AdDU organizations, it would greatly assist in reaching 7,000 Ateneo students.
The alliance plans to distribute digital copies and publicity materials with SAMAHAN and other organizations.
Currently, the alliance only includes R4E, Atenews, BAHAGHARI, and MASA.