HYDERABAD: A Day after two Symbiosis Law School students were verbally threatened with rustication if they failed to remove their social media posts alleging sexual harassment by an assistant professor, an official communication was issued to them on Friday asking them to vacate the hostel. The move, seemingly to silence women from calling our their abuser, has shocked activists and gender-rights activists.
Students who have deposed before the internal complaints committee against assistant professor Srinivas Methuku alleged that the college was trying to hush up the issue. Students, many of them, have accused professor Methuku of ogling at them and making them uncomfortable. According to an Instagram post, one student even shouted at him saying “my face is here, sir,” after she caught him staring.
“The college management is on a witch hunt against the students, initiating disciplinary action against anyone raking up the issue,” say students. “In fact, the college has also asked to two girls to issue an unconditional apology,” they said. Further action against the duo is now pending with Vice-Chancellor of the deemed to be university.
“We have no faith in the committee. We were told to our faces that we were lying due to personal grudge against the professor,” said one student.
Methuku, students say, ironically was also a member of the university grievance cell. And until recently, when students put pressure on the management, there was no internal complaints committee where complaints of sexual harassment could be reported. “What justice can we expect from a management that threatens students with suspension for speaking up,” asks another student.
“A day before examination, we were told to ‘unlike’ or avoid sharing of the Facebook post by these two girls if we did not want to be suspended. I am so stressed I don’t know how I performed in the examination,” said another student. Despite threats from management, several students have extended support to the duo, albeit anonymously.
Meanwhile, the management has said the suspension of the students and allegation against the professor are two separate issues. “The former was done for maligning the reputation of the institution and its dean. By their action, the students are not only dragging their names in the mud, but also tarnishing the reputation of the institution,” said Y Vidya principal director Symbiosis.
The duo, allegedly has faced three disciplinary committees in the past but never deposed before them.
April 1: Two girls write to women and child welfare about institutional mismanagement of sexual harassment complaints in campus
May 2: SLS registrar MS Shejul responds saying that Prof. Srinivas Methuku was reprimanded for ogling and causing discomfort
October 13: Pooja Malhan calls students
October 15: ICC was constituted and 8 students deposed against Prof Methuku
October 25: Dean Shashikala Gurpur tells students that they will be rusticated
October 26: Action initiated, the duo asked to vacate campus
Methuku was a member of grievance cell
Methuku, students say, was also a member of the university grievance cell. And until recently, when students put pressure on the management, there was no internal complaints committee where complaints could be reported