Published: 23rd July 2019
Nine months on, final year Symbiosis Law School students rusticated for #MeToo claims out in the cold
Apoorva YK and Snigdha Jayakrishnan, who were both fourth-year BA LLB students had spoken out against assistant professor, Srinivas Methuku
It has been nine months since two students from Symbiosis Law School, Hyderabad were evicted from their campus for putting up a Facebook status about the sexual harassment they were facing from a professor. The incident gained a lot of attention as it happened during the height of the #MeToo movement but nine months since then, nothing much has changed for the two students.
Apoorva YK and Snigdha Jayakrishnan, who were both fourth-year BA LLB students had spoken out against assistant professor, Srinivas Methuku. They had said in their Facebook post that the professor made women students uncomfortable as he would ogle at them. The institute had allegedly threatened to expel them from the institute if they did not apologise and take down their post — which they were not willing to do either.
In October 2018, the students were given notices to vacate the campus. "When we resisted, they called us for a meeting. When we went to the meeting they handed us documents stating why we had been asked to vacate. But they did not give us enough time to go through it and snatched it away. We demanded that they give us a copy but they refused and we had no choice but to vacate," the students said.
Everybody has asked the college to take them back
The students then went to court but they are yet to get a hearing. In the meanwhile, the Bangalore-based NGO Jhatkaa has conducted a sustained campaign demanding the reinstatement of the two students. The Ministry of Women and Child Development, the University Grants Commission and the National Commission for Women have all made direct interventions in the matter and asked that the students be re-admitted to the course. "There have been interventions from other bodies in the past too but nothing had worked. We have not heard from them at all," Snigdha said.
The past nine months have been anything but easy for the two students. "We would have graduated this year had all this not happened," Snigdha tells us. "Now we don't know when we will graduate, everything is so uncertain," she adds. The Institute had asked the students to apologise and remove their FB post, but the students are refusing to apologise, "We didn't do anything wrong. But when they asked us, the very first time, I actually hid my status but it was only when we were rusticated, that I made it public and sent the screenshots to the media."
There's no going back now
Asked if they ever think about just giving up and deleting the post, Snigdha says she doesn't think that would make much of a difference, "Even if we delete it, I don't think it will yield any results. Also if we apologise, I think they might use that against us. There is no guarantee that they will take us back," she explained.
In a few months, it will be a year since the students were evicted. When questioned about whether they contemplate joining another college, Snigdha says it is a little too late now, "We were in our fourth year. Now to go and join another institute and start all over again and graduate in another 2-3 years is harrowing to think about. We've already lost so much time and it is just not a practical option. We really did expect that the issue would have been sorted out now," Snigdha said.
'This has affected us too much'
Even if they go back now, Snigdha says they are going to find it incredibly difficult to get back on track, "Our academic career has been severely impacted by this incident and even when we go back, we are going to find it difficult. This whole experience has negatively affected us too much," she said. While initially their parents were upset and angry, Snigdha says that now they've calmed down, "They understand now but we have no option but to wait. So that's what they are also doing, just waiting for something to happen so that we can go back to being students."
We have got in touch with the registrar and will update this copy with their comments.