The overall co-heads of this year’s UP Fair have mulled over scrapping the current bidding process of the annual benefit concert following the controversies that ensued after the Upsilon Sigma Phi fraternity became a night handler of this year's Fair.
Co-heads Ron Medina and Aliyah Raiann Pascual, in a statement last night, said that scrapping the bidding process altogether could lead to more involvement from the UP community in forwarding the local and national calls that the Fair will forward.
“We recognize that the current bidding process can and will allow all such formations to bid regardless of their reputation and history … Moving forward, we strive towards a more community-centric UP Fair, and to prevent another incident like this from happening again,” the statement read.
The co-heads’ statement came after student organizations released statements calling for a better and more transparent bidding system in the fair.
The UP Diliman University Student Council (USC) on Saturday maintained that all the night handlers of the UP Fair have met the standards set by the event’s core team. The guidelines state that all duly recognized UP organizations can participate in the bidding process. Organizations are then required to submit an event proposal justifying their capability as night handlers of the UP Fair. Participating organizations will enter a blind bidding, where the highest bidder will be given the privilege to choose which night to handle.
"We recognize that UP Fair and the entirety of its processes can be improved,” the USC’s statement read. “We urge all organizers, night handlers, performers, and all people involved in UP fair to firm up with the campaigns and advocacies the protest fair carries.”
Various students and groups have raised concern over Upsilon’s participation in the bidding process for the week-long event and subsequent award of a UP Fair night. In July 2022, Upsilon was once again involved in hazing allegations after photos and videos of bloodied and distressed students kneeling in front of the fraternity’s mementos and logo were posted on Twitter.
But students’ concerns go way back to 2018, when leaked conversations, known as #LonsiLeaks, were published on the internet, detailing disturbing exchange of messages between the fraternity’s members against marginalized sectors inside and outside of the university. In the same year, Upsilon faced cases of hazing and was also involved in a brawl with Alpha Phi Beta. While formal disciplinary charges were filed for these incidents, the UP Diliman administration, up to this day, has yet to fully resolve the cases filed against the fraternity’s offending members.
“We’ve consistently coordinated with the Office of Student Ethics to investigate online leaks during the start of our term,” said USC Chairperson Latrell Felix earlier today. “We aspire for genuine safe spaces in UP and I take accountability for having Upsilon Sigma Phi as one of the night handlers in this year’s UP Fair.”
Likewise, campus political parties have also clamored for the UP administration to take concrete steps to hold fraternities accountable for their unresolved cases of violence in the university.
The Student Alliance for the Advancement of Democratic Rights in UP has called on the night handlers and fraternities to acknowledge and go under necessary steps and take accountability for their offenses.
“Lahat ng karapatan ay may kaakibat na mga tungkulin at responsibilidad: pananagutan kapag nagkakamali at lumalabag sa karapatan ng iba at ang responsibilidad na harapin ito sa lahat ng panahon … Hinihimok ang lahat na abandunahin ang mga walang saysay na FRV at iwanan ang mga bulok na praktika at tradisyon,” read the statement which was released last night.
Meanwhile, the UP Alyansa ng mga Mag-aaral para sa Panlipunang Katwiran at Kaunlaran submitted a position paper to the USC regarding the council’s “lack of recognition of accountability” over the Fair’s bidding process.
“These are just the bare minimum for us, Iskolar ng at para sa Bayan. The damage has already been inflicted to the UP community, it is only justified to assure that it will never happen again,” the party said.
Moving forward, both the USC and the UP Fair core team have expressed their intent in reviewing the fair’s processes and forming a consultative relationship with the UP community.
“We shall ensure that these assessment points are duly coordinated with and taken into consideration by future organizers. Above all, our communication channels are always open for suggestions and further assessments,” the USC wrote in a statement, February 4. ●
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