Two women students from Symbiosis Law School, Hyderabad have been evicted from the hostel after accusing a professor of sexual harassment and calling him out on Facebook. The victims, Apoorva YK and Snigdha Jayakrishnan, both fourth year BA LLB students, had spoken out against Asst. Professor Srinivas Methuku and accused him of “constant ogling and causing discomfort.” The students have also said they've been orally rusticated from the college, but no written official order has been issued to them as yet. The students had earlier alleged that the administration had earlier threatened to expel them from the college if they did not take down the Facebook post and apologise for speaking out.
“You are hereby requested to vacate the campus from today ie. October 26, 2018 till further order," according to a letter dated Friday, October 26, from Dr. Sukhvinder Singh Dari, the officiating director of Symbiosis Law School.
The two students were forced to leave the hostel on Friday evening, they said.
In a complaint letter written by Apoorva and Snigdha on April 1 to the National Commission for Women and Child Development; Ministry of Human Resources Development; and State Women’s Commission, the students detail Srinivas’s alleged harassment.
“A group of female students complained against Asst. Professor Srinivas Methuku of constant ogling and causing discomfort, Director M.I Baig allegedly passed a remark that his eyes are like that which is not his problem. At this point, no written complaint was taken against the accused and no procedures were followed. The accused had allegedly humiliated a female student by questioning her about her relationship with a boy in the campus and nothing was done about it,” according to the letter.
Following the complaint, the institution’s Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) took up the incident in May.
While the investigation was underway, Apoorva had shared a screenshot of an Instagram post on Facebook on October 10, where an anonymous survivor had shared her experience of sexual harassment with Srinivas, and the response of the institution, which stated that the accused was ‘reprimanded.’ However, Symbiosis International (Deemed) University, Head of Students’ Affairs, Puja Malhan took offense to this and warned Apoorva against posting about the institution as the due process was being followed.
Speaking to TNM, Snigdha shared that Shashikala Gurpur, the school’s dean, had asked Apoorva to remove her post, in which she has named Srinivas as a sexual predator, as part of the ongoing Me Too campaign. On October 25, Dean Shashikala Gurpur threatened to rusticate Apoorva and Snigdha for defaming the institution on electronic media and for violating the code of conduct.
Even prior to their eviction from the hostel, the students were uncertain about their future. Snigdha told TNM, “The administration has spoken to our parents about our ‘conduct’ and have threatened of forcefully evacuating us from the hostel,” she said.
TNM tried contacting the institution for their official response on this. However, all its effort remained futile.
Editor's note: An earlier version of the story stated in error that the two students had been expelled from Symbiosis Law School. The students have been evicted from their hostel. They were orally rusticated from the college, though no official written order has been issued to them as yet.