‘Toma Feminista’: Chilean students take over universities in fight against sexism (VIDEOS)

SANTIAGO – The historic Central House of the Catholic University awoke Friday with locks, chains and an expanded canvas that declared “Toma Feminista” (“Feminist takeover”).

Hundreds of students gathered at the Central House of the Chilean university to begin the first feminist takeover of the historical institution, with the aim of denouncing the lack of measures to prevent and punish sexist violence in the establishment.

The Pontifical Catholic University of Chile is one of the six Catholic Universities existing in the Chilean university system and one of the two Pontifical Universities in the country, along with the Pontifical Catholic University of Valparaíso.

The Central House of the Catholic University has been taken three times.

The first mobilization, and the most historically recognized, dates back to 1967. In June of that year, the UC student body rejected the continuity of the rector Monsignor Alfredo Silva Santiago after 13 years in office, a period in which he also served as Grand Chancellor of the PUC and as President of the Episcopal Conference.

The students in Chile were restless. They sought reforms aimed at the modernization of education and research, the democratization of the administration, new statutes, elimination of letters of recommendation to enter and openness to society.

This time it is different. The Catholic University has been paralyzed for two weeks with different faculties and, for the first time, the mobilization is being led by women. The intention to negotiate with the rector Ignacio Sanchez is explicit and the students seek to guide UC through the path of non-sexist education and the end of sexual abuse and harassment.

“We ask for improvements in the protocol of abuses, which is almost non-existent,” said Bárbara Pérez told the local media.

Meanwhile, the Institute of Communication and Image (ICEI) joined the feminist takeover at the University of Chile, or Universidad de Chile.

According to La Segunda, it is the third such outlet generated on this campus, in addition to the Faculty of Social Sciences (Facso) and the Baccalaureate program that are still in force.

Valentina Camilla, of Journalism, explained to the newspaper that they demand “the exit of two professors including one Juan Pablo Cárdenas for labor harassment and arbitrary discrimination.”

In this regard, the founder of the magazines Análisis and Los Tiempos, as well as the 2005 National Prize for Journalism, pointed out these accusations that “the students are wrong.”

On the other hand, Cárdenas told the media that “the summary, which I requested from the rector, is concluded and I was released of all the charges.”

He added that he has decided to give up both the University of Chile and the Radio UChile.

The other academic denounced is José Miguel Labrín, who would have “a recent summary for abuse of power and sexist violence,” according to Camilla.

Also, another point that concerns the ICEI is to make the information about the protocols of complaints transparent, since there would not be a figure to turn to for these situations.