When TNM asked the college for a reaction, principal Dr Paul Wilson said students had “staggered behaviour” due to the pandemic which needs to be rectified.

Students protest inside Madras Christian CollegeScreengrab
news Protests Thursday, March 31, 2022 - 19:26

The students of the Madras Christian College (MCC) in Chennai staged a protest within the college campus on Thursday, March 31, alleging moral policing and harassment from the faculty. The college union society has submitted a petition with 11 grievances, which includes complaints of misogyny and sexism inside the college campus.

According to a student protestor who spoke to TNM, the issues have been prevalent in the campus for quite some time. “The students are slut shamed, body shamed, and moral policed. For instance, a female dean in the college once lifted the top of a girl student, stating that the dress was inappropriate. This, despite there being no dress code in the college,” the student said. The student also added that the reason cited for moral policing was that the dress “might provoke the male staff.”

It was the confiscation of the IDs of two students on March 30, Wednesday, which triggered the protest. The two students were also suspended for putting their arms around each other's shoulders. Their ID cards were confiscated and they were barred from entering the college. “On April 4, there is a practical exam and they don't have their identity cards, without which they cannot enter the campus. This is totally unfair,” a protestor said.

The student added that when they questioned the college authorities about the confiscation of ID cards, the authorities argued that the two students were being inappropriate. “We told them that not every contact is sexual in nature. Then they said that there have been complaints of sexual harassment, implying that it is because of friendly behaviour like this that sexual harassment happens” the student alleged.

Another student pointed out that this was not the first instance. “When students of different genders hold hands or even have their hands on each others’ shoulders, we face terrible comments. Once, a professor told a student who was resting an arm on another’s shoulder to ‘go and rest on their mother’s shoulder instead,’” said another protestor.

The students also alleged that while the teachers indulged in moral policing, actual complaints of sexual harassment have been treated with a lacksaidical attitude. The students pointed to an instance where a PhD scholar filed a complaint against a professor for sexual harassment, which the college principal said was withdrawn later so the Internal Committee could not act on it. The same has been posted in an Instagram post in the page righteous mcc.college.

The post mentions one more alleged incident: “Another male professor misbehaved with a boy student, and that too, went unnoticed.”

Another post on the same page states, “A college which stays blind and calm for sexual assaults but celebrates moral policing. As I write this, I really don't know how to tell them or in which language that love, friendship and brotherhood exists too!”.

The students also spoke about an incident where a male student who wears jewelry and nail polish was taken aside and told by other faculty that it is not “manly” for him to be presenting that way. The students also say that residential staff members go through their private belongings, and take pictures/videos of the students without their permission.

Regarding interactions between men and women, the students demand that action must only be taken if a complaint is filed by one of the parties for inappropriate behavior. “Dresses and accessories must not become a reason to humiliate, body shame or slut shame a student; every enquiry should be documented; all enquiry committees concerning student welfare, especially those issues where professors are accused and students are victims, must consist of a student representative from the student council. Equal actions must lead to equal repercussions no matter if it involves a staff or a student,” the students demand.

Read : IIT Madras Dalit student sexually assaulted on campus, no action by cops for a year

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A parent of one of the students states that those who question such things are suspended. “Our children are raised such that they should live without gender discrimination. The most important thing to note is that they say that women students are “provoking” the male staff. If that is the case, those staff who can be provoked should be the ones to be removed from the college, no?” the parent questioned.

When TNM asked the college for a reaction, principal Dr Paul Wilson said students had “staggered behaviour” due to the pandemic which needs to be rectified. “The behavioral patterns of the students are staggered due to the pandemic. They have arrived at college without any offline classes for two years. We are trying to moderate those patterns and there is a conflict because of that. The students don’t respect teachers and don’t want anyone to question their freedom. They should know one’s freedom cannot disturb another,” said principal Dr Paul Wilson. He also said that there is an anti-ragging committee, anti-narcotic cell and disciplinary committee which will look at certain issues.

Regarding the confiscation of identity cards, he said that it was done to “manage the show.” “This is not today’s practice. It has been here for a long time. We are only witnessing the staggered behavioral patterns of ultra-sensitive kids and nothing else. These students don't know how to behave in public and we are trying to moderate that, and they feel hurt. There is a grievance committee and all issues will be addressed,” he said.

Dr Paul claimed that there were no issues and all students were dispersing from the protest when TNM spoke to him at 6.30 pm. However, the student protestors denied the same and said that the protests shall continue till their demands are met.

Read : Kerala drama school rape case: Students call out rampant misogyny in the institute

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