Jadavpur University: Professor accused of harassing students asked to stay away from academic activities

While the ICC investigation is still on, the accused professor has been asked to refrain from involving himself in academic activities by the Vice-Chancellor 
Pic: Sourced
Pic: Sourced

Accused of sexual misconduct, Jadavpur University (JU) professor, Dr Shivashish Bose, has been asked to stay away from all academic activities till the investigation is over. The move comes two months after the fifth-year students of the Architecture department unanimously filed a complaint against the professor, accusing him of sexual harassment and misconduct with students over the years. “The professor was debarred from all academic activities after we got to speak to the Vice-Chancellor on November 2. We are hoping the investigation will be speedy and required actions will be taken soon,” informs an Architecture department student, on the condition of anonymity. 

A little bit of background
The fifth-year students of the Architecture department wrote an official complaint letter to the Vice-Chancellor of the university in September 2022, stating instances of harassment that the female students of the department have been at the receiving end of. The students have also been staging protests on campus and opened a Facebook page that publishes anonymous accounts of both current and ex-students who have either faced or witnessed accounts of inappropriate behaviour by the professor. Additionally, Prof Bose was also included as the 56th name on the List of Sexual Harassers in Academia (LoSHA) that was published by a UC Davis School of Law student named Raya Sarkar on October 24, 2017, as a part of the #MeToo movement.

The students also filed a general diary at the Jadavpur Police Station on October 18. The GD was signed by 35 students and lists the various events that led them to take action against the professor. “From taking photographs to making inappropriate comments....He has remarked in class about the size of the bed a girl would require with her partner. There were no scenarios that would invite such comments on our female students. He has often told the boys of the class which girl will be better as wife material and has pointed out how a girl must be judged based on grounds of looks, figures and dress,” states the letter.  

A demand for suspension
The students demanded that the professor get suspended but as per authorities a GD was required for them to take any proper action. The students finally got to meet the Vice-Chancellor on November 2, who then assured the students that although suspension might not be possible, the professor would be asked to refrain from academic activities till the investigation is over. A university official confirms the update with EdexLive. He states, “The last board meeting decided to ask the professor to refrain from academic activities of UG and PG classes.” 

Further, Gourob Das, General Secretary of the Faculty of Engineering and Technology Students' Union (FETSU) informs, “The FETSU has already submitted a deputation to the Vice-Chancellor. We are trying our best to be there for the students, but we also need the process to take its due course.”

Another Architecture department students states, “It took us 4 to 5 hours to get the GD done. We were hoping this will finally lead to the suspension but we understand that such drastic action is not possible till the investigation concludes.”  

The Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Prof Chiranjib Bhattacharjee, echoed the same views when he previously spoke with EdexLive. He stated, “Students are demanding immediate administrative action but we cannot go ahead without substantiation by the ICC (Internal Complaints Committee).”

ICC and the delay in the investigation 
The university's Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) had taken up the complaint and had its first meeting with the students on September 22. The committee has, however, had only three meetings so far. “It has been three months since the investigation started, but the committee could only manage to have three meetings. This is ridiculously slow,” complains a fifth-year student. Previously, another student shared her views about the lackadaisical attitude of the ICC stating, “They only find the opportunity to meet on Thursdays and even on those days so many engagements come up for them….(meetings were) cancelled for unnecessary reasons. The issue at hand is very serious and such an attitude is, in a way, enabling the behaviour of the offender.”

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