After the harassment case on October 18, Women’s Collective of English Foreign Language University (EFLU) has written to the National Commission for Women (NCW) today, November 11, regarding other instances of harassment by senior professors. Speaking to EdexLive on the condition of anonymity, a representative of the student community said, “We have consulted a lawyer and we are doing this legally.”
Additionally, today, November 10, the Women’s Collective also wrote to the Telangana State Commission for Women.
The students are seeking intervention when it comes to the multiple incidents of inappropriate behaviour displayed by several professors. As per the letter, the Women’s Collective is an “informal group of approximately 100 students formed in a time of emergency – set against the backdrop of the most recent sexual assault case in campus.”
Citing that the sexual assault of a female student on October 18 happened, “in the context of a serious institutional apathy towards students” and amid the several incidents of harassment against students by faculty members, the collective pointed out the lapses in the administration. They shared a detailed list of complaints regarding the incidents they encountered so far, requesting a fair investigation and a proper redressal of the claims made.
A female student from Women’s Collective told EdexLive, “We sent this letter to offices like the National Commission for Women and the Telangana State Commission for Women. We reached out to them because we are neither confident nor comfortable with how the administration has been reacting to the complaints previously made in this regard.”
“Our administration has repeatedly proved to be hostile about such allegations against one of their own. We demand a fair investigation into these matters and ask for proper redressal of these claims because we as students require a campus that is free of harassment and violence where we can freely approach faculty or administration,” she added.
Further, the collective highlighted the experiences of a few female victims with professors from various departments. They are:
1. Inappropriate jokes in class by a professor from the Department of English Literature focusing on women’s clothing
2. A professor of the Department of Phonetics and Spoken English sent “academically unrelated videos” to a student. Additionally, students felt he uses “sexual innuendos in class while conversing with them”
3. A professor from the Department of English as Second Language Studies texted and called a student at night. With another student, he interacted using inappropriate physical contact publicly
4. A professor from the Department of Film Studies made inappropriate advances towards a student by insisting on spending time, meeting privately for lunch, speaking about his sex life and prodding into the student’s mental health issues
5. A professor from the Department of English Literature tried to contact students at odd times asking about their ‘relationships and personal business’. He sent Valentine’s Day wishes to one of the female students making her extremely uncomfortable
The claims made by the students Women’s Collective include:
1. Non-existence of a fully functional Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) with three democratically elected students
2. Registrar-in-charge Prof K Narasimha Rao asking for the victim’s identity publicly
3. Despite being aware of the October 18 incident, there was no action from Prof T Samson (former Proctor) for close to six hours. He publicly belittled the issue by calling it “a small incident”.
4. Mishandling the information as the ICC member and Deputy Proctor Dr Rajkumar who disclosed the victim’s name during his class
5. Delay in action by the hostel warden and displaying insensitivity towards the survivor’s friends, who were trying to ensure a comfortable and safe environment for the survivor
6. Police manhandling and detainment protestors; professors filing FIRs and show cause notices
Stating that these claims speak volumes about the administration’s incompetence, they said the “heedless approach to such a sensitive case has broken the trust of the student community in the administration.” Additionally, under the current proctorial board, “we have no faith that a fair investigation will be done,” they stressed.
“We, as students, require a campus free of harassment and violence, where we can freely approach faculty or administration. The actions of a few have harmed the credibility of many, and we, once again, ask for your help in dealing with these issues,” the complaint read.