Published: 18th June 2019
MCC professors found guilty of sexual harassment back at work? Students told that they've 'apologised'
Though the committee had found that the actions of the two professors did constitute sexual harassment, the professors are back at work and students claim that the administration has 'moved on'
With the Madras Christian College due to reopen on June 19, the students were shocked to find that the professors who had been accused and found guilty of sexual harassment were still part of the Zoology department. When a couple of them protested, they were allegedly shouted down and even 'bitten' by the staff — though this fact could not be officially verified.
After reports of alleged sexual harassment came out in March 2019, the college administration had constituted a committee to look into the allegations and two professors were found guilty after the inquiry. The administration put together the Internal Complaints Committee comprising of three professors including the women's dean, a doctor and a lawyer. According to the report that was submitted to the administration, the committee had found that the actions of the two professors did constitute sexual harassment. One of the professors abused the students while the other helped him hide the same. They had also advised the college management to take action against the two. "The professors' actions did constitute creating a hostile work/ study environment that resulted in gender discrimination against the complainants and we hereby refer these findings to the Principal of the College in his use in his determining appropriate action," the report stated.
Back in business
However, when the students went to college two days ago, they were shocked to find one of the professors — Samuel Tennyson — in the staff room of the department. When the students checked, they said they found the names of both Samuel and R Raveen in the registration book. "We asked one of our supporters from the staff to check the register and we were told both the names were there and they had their signatures as well," a student told Edex.
The next day, the students said that they saw both the professors attend the staff meeting. "They were alloting periods and discussing the syllabus and distributing the workload," the student said. Feeling betrayed by the fact that the management did not keep their promise, a couple of the students decided to question the staff and remained near the door of the staff room. "They didn't let us talk at all and instead about 15 teachers stood around the two accused and protected them from us. They instead started to shout at us for asking questions," the student said.
No space for dissent
One of Raveen's PhD scholars was allegedly taking a video of the students when the librarian allegedly began to abuse them for causing 'trouble'. "When we questioned the scholar about why he was taking a video of us instead of the accused, he pushed us and even bit one of the students. The security was called and they forced us to leave. They said they will not allow us back on the campus," the student recalled.
When the students approached the administration directly, they were told that the two professors had apologised and were therefore allowed to keep their jobs. "Whom did he apologise to? And if that was the reason for why they were not fired then shouldn't they have informed us? Shouldn't we have been involved in the decision-making?" the students asked before adding with vehemence, "The victims are the ones who deserve the apology. So when they weren't apologised to, how were the professors allowed back on campus?" the students questioned.
Wait. Who's guilty here?
They were chased away from the administrative building too, the students told Edex. "They made us feel like we were doing something wrong but what did we do? We did whatever was asked, we complained, the committee was formed, they were found guilty. Now what? They didn't take any action and when we protest, they attack us?" a Zoology student said.
The students also said that none of the people on the committee were answering their calls and no staff member is listening to them. One of them claims that they have been repeatedly calling the Women's Dean, once while sitting right outside her office and yet she did not answer the call. The principal is also not meeting them, "They keep saying he's busy with admissions. No one is responding to us."
Now that they've gone to the department, the Principal and the ICC, the students are unsure of what to do next. "We fought so hard and now so easily the professors have been accepted back. Now where do we go?" one of the students asks helplessly.
MCC's Principal Dr Alexander Jesudasan could not be reached for comment.