Published: 20th August 2022
Kolkata: St Xavier's University VC denies charge that professor was forced to resign over Instagram pictures
The varsity drew flak after a 31-year-old assistant professor at the university filed a police complaint alleging that she was forced to resign from her post over some pictures of her in a swimsuit
In a statement countering the claims that an assistant professor was forced to resign from Kolkata's St Xavier's University, the Vice-Chancellor of the varsity has commented that it was "humiliating to assume" that the institution would do so. The VC's words come amid continuing online campaigns supporting the assistant professor.
The varsity drew flak after a 31-year-old assistant professor at the university filed a police complaint alleging that she was forced to resign from her post over some pictures of her in a swimsuit on social media. She had stated that she was accused of sharing "inappropriate" photos of her on Instagram by an internal disciplinary committee of the university, consisting of female faculty members, the VC and the Registrar, among others, as per a report by PTI.
She also alleged that during the committee meeting held in October 2021, she was told that her photos could have an adverse impact on a section of male students and their parents. The professor said that she was shown printouts of some of her Instagram photos and told that the authorities were reported about the photos by a parent who found his son "staring" at them.
However, the VC has rubbished these claims and stated that the varsity respects the privacy of each of its stakeholders. "The university believes in preserving and maintaining the dignity and honour of its teachers, staff members, students and others connected with it," he said, as per PTI.
"It may kindly be specifically noted that St Xavier's University, Kolkata, has not forced any teacher to resign. And it is most humiliating to even assume that St Xavier's University, Kolkata, would force any teacher to resign," he said in his statement.
"It has been observed that during the last few days, there are certain statements and write-ups on social media platforms and publications in print media by unilaterally naming St Xavier's University, Kolkata, and its certain officials and teachers regarding some alleged forced resignation of a university teacher, although there is no mention about the identity of the teacher," reads the statement.
"Needless to mention that you yourself will agree and appreciate that the university always believes in preserving and maintaining the dignity and honour of all its teachers, staff members, students and others connected with it, past and present," the statement, addressed to the media, said further.
On the other hand, the professor in question is at a loss to understand how her pictures were accessed by the members of the interdisciplinary committee. "The thumbnails in the printout showed to me during the October 7 meeting (last year) were indeed my photos taken in a hotel abroad before I had joined the institution. It was from an Instagram story shared with my friends in early 2020, which cannot be seen by any guardian or his son. It can be viewed for only 24 hours. And none of these people have access to my account," she said.
She has stood her ground and maintained that nobody could decide what she should be wearing in her private life. She also mentioned to PTI that she was forced to resign despite having submitted an apology for "inappropriate conduct, if any, hurting the image of the institution"
The VC challenges the charge. He says that there had not been any instance of any faculty member being asked to resign, but there was a meeting indeed, involving an assistant professor, in the first week of October, where she herself had confirmed that a few students and guardians were following her Instagram posts.
"She had herself apologised in a letter for any conduct in the public domain that was accessible to students which might not be appropriate for a teacher, the very next day. By the end of October 2021, she sent a resignation letter to the university. That was over eight months back. The university is pained to come across malicious charges all of a sudden now," he states.
He added, "St Xavier's has always stood for liberal values and never imposed any moral code of conduct on its faculty, students and staff members." Meanwhile, an online campaign in support of the professor, demanding action against the VC, has gathered 24,000 signatures till date.