CHENNAI: The University of Madras on Thursday issued a circular, urging female students and faculty members who face sexual harassment to immediately approach appropriate varsity authorities, in order to keep the campus a "harassment-free zone."
The circular asked victims to complain to the Vice-Chancellor's office or to the Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) for the prevention of sexual harassment. The circular noted, "The University campus is a place of knowledge and no act of sexual harassment of any sort will be permitted inside the campus." It further said that any such act would result in immediate action from the management and will be dealt with
The circular instructed faculty members shall not call any student to his or her home, and that doing so will amount to misconduct. "Students are directed not to stay at the faculty member’s house or tour with their guides at any cost unless special permission is taken from the university authorities,” the circular further read adding that any kind of sexual harassment is banned within the campus.
A senior faculty member from the varsity said that the circular was issued to spread awareness on the help available for victims of sexual harassment. "Students would feel confident in coming forward, if they know that the management will offer appropriate support," the faculty member said.
The circular assumes significance in the wake of the case of sexual harassment of students by two professors of the Madras Christian College, Chennai.
A batch of 50 students from the college had complained in April 2019 that the two professors – R Raveen and Samuel Tennyson – had passed inappropriate comments about their clothes and had harassed them on a tour in February. The students went to the Head of the Zoology Department with their complaint but he, allegedly, dismissed the complaint saying that it was a ‘first-time offence’.
After protest by the students demanding justice, the Internal Committee (IC) of the college conducted an investigation and both professors were found guilty, only last month.