Editor's Note: A student of Christ University has written this blog post on condition of anonymity, detailing sexual harassment allegedly perpetrated by senior faculty members. The News Minute made repeated attempts to contact two senior officials in the university’s management, but neither answered their phones.
As a student at the Main Campus of Christ University, my heart goes out to all the students protesting at the new Bannerghatta Campus. It is perfectly legitimate to protest against the unjust practices that are employed in that campus. While their issues range from infrastructural problems to downright absurdity, the students on the Main Campus, particularly girls, grapple with increasing sexualisation and sexual harassment. Yes, we feel increasingly vulnerable and it’s about time this issue was addressed.
It was in my first semester that an issue with regard to my assignment brought me to the office of a Father, a powerful figure in the University administration and a professor. Pleasantries aside, he sent jitters down my spine. He proceeded to peer at my rather fitting suit and commented that I looked smart. But, he wouldn’t stop at that. He said he wished girls dressed as smart as I did in a tone that reeked of conceit, knowing fully that I wouldn’t bring it up ever because he was an influential man. He was the very man who was said to have been accused of sexual harassment. Initially, I refused to subscribe to such claims. But the menacing glance and smirk on his face was enough to prove otherwise. His notoriety preceded him. The smugness with which he goes about his daily activities without a care for repercussions of his deplorable behaviour is rather frightening. All I could do was to make a mental note never to visit him alone.
In another instance, my Additional English Professor flirted with me and wondered if I might be lured into watching a movie with him. A normal conversation within the confines of a classroom in the presence of other students didn’t deter him from asking me something like that. This is a man who has asked similar questions to other female students on several occasions. Despite a negative faculty evaluation on the part of the students, he continues to teach in Christ. The same professor asked a male friend about the “maal” he’s managed to “score” among his female classmates. Yes, girls are goods and we definitely fancy being “scored”. I met him a few days into the new academic year and a mere handshake lingered a minute too long before I pulled it back in disgust.
A friend was pulled up by the counsellor for her appearance. Apparently, her “made up” face and “excessive” lipstick is the reason why she had low attendance and also happens to distract boys in class. The very claim is outrageous, reeking of a superior attitude. Moreover, the absurdity of the non-existent correlation is amusing. Similarly, another girl was subjected to some harsh character assassination when the Dean accused her of being a “un-moralistic” for carrying lipstick and wearing leggings. I understand that the latter is against college rules, but that definitely doesn’t warrant comments that marr one’s personal reputation. There is nothing to suggest that carrying a lipstick is against college rules. This girl was left in tears, with nowhere to go.
All these instances have left me quite agitated. One might say that there are several avenues within the university where such issues might be taken up, but I beg you to reconsider.
The Student Council is a farce, filled with sycophants who merely serve the imperial edicts of the administration. The “Open Forum” wherein students are allowed to discuss issues ailing them has no powers, recommendatory or otherwise.
When I told my counsellor about my Additional English professor, she suggested that my teacher was being “friendly” and I should adopt a less guarded demeanour. She is one of the many who help legitimise inappropriate advances under the pretext of “cordial behaviours”. This is done strictly under the instruction of the administration that has, time and again, stifled and threatened students who spoke up against such harassment. (Each class is appointed a counsellor for student welfare.)
Moreover, the faculty in Christ turn students against each other, crushing any expression of solidarity. We sit in classes infested with snitches waiting for an opportunity to witness the legendary fall of the brave and outspoken. My friend advised me against reporting this matter to the NAAC members who visited our campus a year earlier simply because it would most certainly lead to my expulsion. Fear and insecurities rule the lives of students within the campus for one simply cannot risk an issue with the almighty management.
Is student welfare so dispensable that there are no forums to address their issues? Apparently so at Christ. I write this for every student who’s been subjected to such treatment but hasn’t been able to gather the courage to report it. I write this for the anonymous faces whose stories will never be heard because Christ will stifle it. Above all, I write this for many more students who are yet to come. This is an ardent plea for change, for compassion and most importantly, for respect.