Jadavpur University prof accused of sexual harassment temporarily debarred from academic activities 

The accused professor will have to go through counselling and provide a completion certificate to get back on campus
Protest posters on JU campus against accused prof | (Pic: Sourced)
Protest posters on JU campus against accused prof | (Pic: Sourced)

According to the recommendation of the Internal Complaint Committee (ICC), Jadavpur University (JU) professor, Dr Shivashish Bose, has been debarred from campus and other academic work until he completes his counselling. Dr Bose was accused of sexually harassing his female students over the years. "The Executive Council (EC) accepted the recommendation and sent a copy to me. We are adhering to the recommendations and taking department actions accordingly," informs the Architecture Department's Head, Dr Mainak Ghosh. Dr Bose's classes, meanwhile, are getting allocated to other professors. 

The ICC released their report on December 21, after three months of investigation. The committee’s recommendations include counselling, barring the professor from guiding female students, gender sensitisation programmes and more. In its report, ICC concluded that Dr Bose’s unwelcome physical and verbal conduct was inappropriate and made students uncomfortable. Students were particularly concerned about the counselling recommendation and how that would work. “We wanted to know how the counselling will take place because Dr Bose might reappear with a medical certificate. We want some clarity,” says a student of the Architecture Department on the condition of anonymity. 

What happened so far?
Female students from across the batches accused Dr Bose of being sexually inappropriate. An official complaint was lodged by all the fifth-year students of the Architecture Department in September last year, demanding strict action against the accused for his behaviour. A Facebook page was also created by the students who published anonymous testimonies of current and former students of being harassed by Dr Bose. Protests were also staged on campus, however, the university administration was awaiting the conclusion of the ICC investigation to take steps against the professor. Furthermore, the professor was also the 56th name on the List of Sexual Harassers in Academia (LoSHA), which was published by a UC Davis Law student, Raya Sarkar on October 2017, as a part of the #MeToo movement. 

The professor was accused of a plethora of things, including unwanted touching, casual sexism, taking photos of female students without their consent, and ill-suited attention. Students claim he has body-shamed them frequently and forced female students to see him in a room alone despite their obvious discomfort. 

What are the students saying now?
Students are still sceptical about the counselling procedure. However, Gourab Das, the General Secretary of the Faculty of Engineering and Technology Students' Union (FETSU) says, “The recommendations have been permitted by the EC and the Vice-Chancellor confirmed it. I see that the university is proactive in this case. We have to keep faith in the process. I understand that the students are anxious about the outcome, but if we notice discrepancies in the procedure, we will take action.” 

The students are currently hoping that the counselling will be completed effectively and that the other recommendations will be carried out appropriately. Nevertheless, the students are grateful to have been heard by the university. Previously a student told EdexLive, “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.” 

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