After Jadavpur University's lackadaisical response to sexual abuse complaint against professor, students take matter to police

A professor of the Architecture Department called out for sexually harassing students for years has not been suspended yet; students file police case 
Protest posters | (Pic: JU students)
Protest posters | (Pic: JU students)

The fifth-year Architecture students at Jadavpur University had unanimously filed a complaint against one of their professors, Dr Shivashissh Bose, for allegedly behaving inappropriately and sexually harassing female students over the years. The students finally filed a General Diary (GD) with the Jadavpur Police station on October 18, 2022. A complaint was also lodged with the National Commission of Women and the Council of Architecture (COA).  

General Diary against the alleged professor 
Inappropriate interactions between the professor and his students in several situations are mentioned in the general diary that has been signed by 35 students. The letter states: “From taking photographs to making inappropriate comments such as how a girl looks and is easily recognisable even from the back, what a girl could do to look more beautiful and even comparing different body measurements of different female students. 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.”

The Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) of the university had taken up the case and scheduled their first meeting with the students on September 22; however, the students complained of unnecessary delay in the procedure and lackadaisical attitude in the behaviour of the members. “The ICC members need to fast-track this. They only find the opportunity to meet on Thursdays and even on those days so many engagements come up for them. We’ve only had two meetings so far; the others 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,” said one of the many students of the Architecture department who spoke to EdexLive on the condition of anonymity. 

The alleged professor was also listed as the 56th name on the List of Sexual Harassers in Academia (LoSHA) by a student of UC Davis School of Law, Raya Sarkar, on October 24, 2017.

Numerous complaints and repeat offender 
These are also the same complaints that one can find on the Facebook confession page started by these students. The page is called 'It's you Not US' and students have been anonymously submitting their confessions there regarding the unpleasant experiences they had with the professor. The page has over 30 confessions from students across batches. While most of the confessions are about his casual sexism and inappropriate touching, one confession sticks out. A female student from the 2019 batch claims to be harassed on her review day since she wouldn't give him her phone number or go to his room, “He started asking every detail of my drawing and started rebuking me absolutely for no reason. At least two of the boys from my class told sir to leave me as the review was over but sir told them that 'she should know how it feels when one doesn't keep one's word.' So all the harassment was not because my design was bad, it was because I didn't go to his room.”

Despite the number of complaints, students claim the professor is still taking classes. “He was requested to not take the classes of just the fifth-year students since we lodged a written complaint against him with the Vice-Chancellor, however, he might start taking our classes again in November,” says a fifth-year student of the Architecture Department. When EdexLive reached out to the Head of the Department, Dr Mainak Ghosh, he refuted the claim saying there has been no such directive. He further added, “Suspension cannot happen unless we get an official directive and we’ve got none so far.” A Postgraduate student from the Architecture Department claims, “They are not suspending him because when they did so previously in a couple of cases, a defamation case was filed against the university.”

Additionally, the students also allege that the accused professor and his allies have been harassing a few students. “He has a lot of power academically and we fear he can get vindictive,” claims one of the students. Another student alleges how the harassment also comes from PhD students and adds, “We get random calls and attempts are made to manipulate us with false threats.” 

Protests continue; Pro-VC meet students but no response from VC
Numerous attempts were made by the students to meet the Vice-Chancellor but their efforts were in vain. “We could only meet the Pro-Vice Chancellor so far and he gave us assurance of an action, but we aren’t too sure,” says one of the students. It was also the Pro-Vice -Chancellor and the Joint Registrar who received the official complaint letter written by the students after the students failed to receive any response from the Vice-Chancellor via repeated emails and visits. 

Students continue to stage protests on the university campus as the ICC continues their slow investigation. The Faculty of Engineering and Technology Students' Union (FETSU), submitted a deputation to the Vice-Chancellor on September 27, however, the students of the Architecture Department claim that they are alone in this fight and barely found any solidarity from their collegemates. “Other departments couldn’t see this as an issue of Jadavpur as a whole, unfortunately,” concludes one of the fifth-year students in despair. 

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