Jadavpur University: Architecture prof accused of sexual harassment be barred from guiding female students, ICC recommends 

ICC released its report on sexual harassment on December 21; three and a half months after the students of the Architecture department complained unanimously
Pic: Sourced
Pic: Sourced

The fifth-year architecture students at Jadavpur University (JU) had jointly filed a complaint against one of their professors, Dr Shivashish Bose, for sexually inappropriate behaviour with female students over the years in September this year. The Internal Complaints Committee (ICC), investigating the complaint, released their report on December 21, recommending possible actions against the accused professor. The committee's recommendations include counselling, barring him from guiding female students, gender sensitisation programmes and more. "In view of the...findings. The Internal Complaint Committee concludes that his (Dr Bose's) unwelcome physical and verbal conduct of sexual nature intimidated the students and made them uncomfortable in his class," stated the report which was shared with EdexLive.

The students, however, are not very pleased with the recommendations. A fifth-year student of the Architecture department, who was among the set of students who spoke to EdexLive on the condition of anonymity, says, "The process of counselling is not very clear to us. One fine morning, Dr Bose reappearing with a medical certificate is not acceptable. It is easy for him to get hold of a medical certificate." The students were staging protests on campus, demanding strict action against the professor. Previously, when EdexLive spoke to Pro-Vice-Chancellor (VC), Prof Chiranjib Bhattacharya, he informed us that the university could take administrative action without the substantiation or recommendation by the ICC. 

The accusations 
Prof Shivashish Bose has been accused of being a serial sexual offender by his female student over the years. Students from various batches have taken to Facebook to narrate their experiences. A Facebook page created by the students publishes anonymous testimonies of current and former students who have experienced or observed inappropriate behaviours by the professor. Additionally, Prof Bose was the 56th name on the List of Sexual Harassers in Academia (LoSHA), published on October 24, 2017, by a UC Davis School of Law student, Raya Sarkar, as a part of the #MeToo movement. "He has been doing this for the past two decades. We expected appropriate actions against him," says a student. 

The ICC report
The ICC report not only acknowledges the inappropriate behaviours of the professor but also condemns his actions as not desirable. "Above all, being a Professor of a HEI (Higher Education Institute), this type of objectionable behaviour in his class and frivolous comments is not warranted. It is to be noted that being in a position of power and respect, he can influence the students, thus, these actions are not desirable and be condemned," (sic) states the ICC report, adding, "As per rule of HEI, the matter of the Respondent (Dr Bose) should be looked into by the HEI and necessary measure to be taken to address the grievances of the students." (sic)

Grievances of the students
Among the myriad of accusations against the professor were inappropriate touches, casual sexism, the clicking of non-consensual photographs of female students and other ill-suited attentiveness on the part of the professor. Students also allege that he has body-shamed students plenty of times and coerced female students to meet him alone in a room despite their visible discomfiture. 

Students are also displeased with how the institution handled the situation. In a few instances, they claim that the professor kept visiting the campus as the investigation procedure was on and he would often remove the posters put out against him. "The past three and a half months, seeing him on campus was incredibly unsettling. The victim and accused should not cross paths according to ICC law, but nothing was done about it," a student informs, adding, "As of now, we hope that the administration properly implements the verdict of ICC." 

How to define inappropriateness?
What kind of touches can be deemed inappropriate? The students of the Architecture department have been at the receiving end of inappropriate behaviour by Dr Bose, however, society frequently dismisses these incidents and waits to take action until something severe occurs. The students acknowledge that they are relieved that JU at least paid attention to their concerns. "Such casual comments and inappropriate touches are so normalised in a society that nobody cares. Most dismiss it as a minor matter, therefore, it is remarkable that our department could take action against such behaviour," concludes a student. 

Recommendations of ICC against the accused professor

  • Counselling and being banned from entering the campus without submission of a completion certificate to the university
  • Barred from guiding female students
  • Not permitted to accompany students on field trips
  • If another sexual allegation against the same professor arises, it has to be handled more seriously
  • Note of the report is to be kept in his service book for future reference
  • Any additional action that the university administration considers appropriate

Related Stories

No stories found.