MCC Sexual Harassment Row: Zoology students stage sit-in protest till 9 pm to get ICC's attention

Students stage lengthy protest to push ICC to agree to hear the case of sexual harassment against the professor assiduously and without bias
Image for representational purpose only (Pic: PTI)
Image for representational purpose only (Pic: PTI)

When it rains, it pours. Mere months after students of the Madras Christian College staged a massive stir after a Chemistry student collapsed on the sports field, the historic college in Tambaram was privy to another protest - albeit one that has been simmering towards boiling point for about a week now. 

As many as 44 students of the III year Zooology staged a sit-in protest on April 2 for nearly 12 hours to demand action against their professor who was accused of sexual harassment. While the charges against R Raveen, a lecturer with the Zoology department, had been levelled almost a month ago, the clear lack of action by the Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) of the college hit the students hard. 

A student posted on Facebook, "There's a protest before the Miller statue @ 9:30 am  on 03/04/2019 for action not taken against the offenders who have harassed the girls in zoology department , we need everyone's support," and the students from the final year of Zoology - who have mere weeks to go before they graduate - took a solid stand against the administration - right at their doorstep.

The protest ran its course - lasting almost till 9 in the night, "Lots of students came and watched and extended support for the cause but did not join in because of the timing. The administration that they would give it up after some initial peace talks but that did not happen," said a lecturer in the college.

Hearteningly, at least 20 of the protestors were women who had signed the complaint that accused Raveen of inappropriate behaviour and sexual harassment of the first order during a recent college trip to Karnataka. After the allegations came tumbling out, more skeletons came rolling out the closet from as far back as 15 years ago - detailing personal instances of sexual harassment by the professor who stands accused. 

On an exceedingly hot day, the students refused to budge when college staff told them that they had already finished an enquiry and taken action - that they had been banned from going on college trips and would not be allowed to evaluate this batch's final semester papers was not punishment enough. "As an allegation was made today, the Convenor of the committee addressed and they made the enquiry to be made on Saturday (April 6). They accepted all our demands for today and they said we can open up everything before the committee," a student who was among the protesting number posted on Facebook. 

And so, the protest was called off and an uneasy calm fell upon the campus again, "Until Saturday, let's wait for the committee to enquire and respond and on acceptance, we are calling off the protest tomorrow," he added. 

The college appears to be taking the stiff upper lip approach, "The college authorities tried to reason with the students but they demanded another enquiry by the ICC which we have now granted. The action will be taken as per the norms laid out by the UGC," said a college official.

Neither the principal-in-charge nor Raveen R were available for comment. 

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