The students had said that the warden blamed the incident of sexual harassment on the clothes worn by the students when they went to her to lodge a complaint.

SRM Varsity acts suspends hostel warden who victim shamed harassed student
news Sexual Harassment Friday, November 23, 2018 - 16:57

Responding to the sexual harassment allegations made by a student inside the campus of the SRM Institute of Science and Technology in Chennai, the Registrar of the university on Friday stated that the hostel warden who allegedly victim shamed the student has been suspended.

In a statement released on Friday, N Sethuraman, the Registrar of the university expressed regret for the incident and said a committee has been constituted to look into the incident.

“Based on the incident occurred a committee constituted has looked into the issue and the warden has been suspended. It is also looking into strengthening the safety and security measures of the students in the campus,” read the statement.

The statement also said that the man who was accused of sexually harassing a student was an outsourced employee who collects food waste from the mess and that he had breached security to enter the lift of the hostel building.

Explaining the delay in filing a police complaint, the University said, “Seeking consent of the parents resulted in a slight delay in lodging a complaint with the police, during which students became restless.” It also added that subsequent to the complaint, the police arrested the accused in the early hours of Friday.

Adding that there were woman guards and counsellors at the service of the students in the campus, the statement from the Registrar also said that the security system is being relooked at after this incident.

The statement comes after a girl student from the university complained of sexual harassment from a male worker inside a lift. According to the victim, the man masturbated at her on Thursday afternoon when she was on her way to her hostel room. When she tried to exit the lift, the man allegedly blocked her from leaving, but then let her go after she started screaming.

Following this, the girl, accompanied by her friends, approached the warden who asked a letter from the victim to access the CCTV footages to identify the man. The girls also said that the warden engaged in blaming it all on the clothes worn by the students for what happened. This led to the students gather in the grounds and demand the management of the university listen to their complaint.

The students also opened up about the past instances of inappropriate and suspicious behaviour by the male workers who have access to hostels and canteens inside the campus.

A student had told TNM on Thursday that a few rooms in the hostel have windows opening into the corridor through which the men peek into the rooms of the girls at night. Despite many complaints made to the management about this, it has not changed, said the student.

“The Registrar arrived at the protest to answer all the questions, which he failed to answer, and after a while refused to take any more questions. After a point of time, the Registrar tried to leave the Hostel compound but the girls surrounded him and did not let him leave without any answers. As the Registrar was unable to answer the questions, he told the girls to direct their questions towards the Director of the Hostel and Campus Life,” a student told TNM on the condition of anonymity.

An official working in the office of the Director (Campus Life) told TNM on Friday that a meeting with the University V-C was held to discuss the issue. He also added that the wardens who were accused by the girls have been replaced and if the allegations of victim-blaming are found true, the university would terminate their services.

Meanwhile, the Maraimalai Nagar police arrested the accused, Arjun, at 3 am on Thursday. An FIR has been registered against him based on a complaint from the warden.

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