Enough blame to go around

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THE hazing death of freshman law student Horacio Castillo III has laid bare the failure of people and institutions that could have prevented the tragic and senseless loss of life. To the extent that none of them have stepped up to take responsibility bodes ill for the prospects that Castillo will be the last victim to the barbaric fraternity practice of hazing.

In the aftermath of Castillo’s death, we were treated to the spectacle of the University of Sto. Tomas civil law dean, Nilo Divina­—himself a member of the Aegis Juris fraternity—disavowing any responsibility for the crime. Divina also insisted there was no basis for his going on leave, even though he has been named a respondent in the criminal case. Clearly, the law dean’s actions indicate a failure of moral leadership, not only from the dean himself, but from members of the civil law faculty, who have remained silent and allowed this anomaly to go unchallenged.

Outside of an initial statement condemning Castillo’s death and promising to hold those guilty accountable, UST management has shown an appalling lack of moral leadership as well. With their inaction and silence, university officials seemed to condone the law dean’s lack of a moral compass, perhaps in the belief that their fates are now intertwined, and that his fall would drag the university down as well.

But that ship has sailed.

We read with disbelief the damning testimony of one of the fraternity members who turned state witness, recounting how they prayed before they proceeded to beat Castillo senseless and kill him. Certainly, this was an indictment of the Catholic university’s religious instruction to its students. Was the brutal initiation rite that followed blessed by the prayer that preceded it? We do not even have to be Catholic to know the answer to that one.

Clearly, too, the fraternity members’ elders failed them. We refer here, not only to older members of the fraternity who have moved on, perhaps to positions of influence in the government and the private sector, but to the students’ parents, who failed to inculcate in them the proper respect for all life, especially human life, and the difference between right and wrong. The arrogance with which the president of the fraternity chose to remain silent before a Senate hearing made us wonder —what kind of a family could raise a person so devoid of conscience?

All this is not to say that the fraternity members themselves were mere victims of their upbringing, because in the end, we are all ultimately responsible for our own actions. But in this tragic affair, there is more than enough blame to go around.

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