Female CUSAT student fears losing fight against harassment by faculty

“There are moves to let the three teachers responsible for my plight off the hook,” alleged the student, who did not wish to be named.

Published: 28th January 2022 07:25 AM  |   Last Updated: 28th January 2022 07:25 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

KOCHI: Showing the courage to report ragging and bullying by senior students and wrongdoings of faculty members proved costly for an MSc student of Cusat as she fell out of favour with her teachers who also allegedly subjected her to intense emotional and mental trauma since 2017. 

Though the university syndicate is scheduled to meet on Friday and take up her complaint following a High Court order, the student of Cusat’s Marine Geology and Geophysics department is sure that she is fighting a losing battle.

“There are moves to let the three teachers responsible for my plight off the hook,” alleged the student, who did not wish to be named. “The way things are moving, I am sure that all charges will be dropped against the teachers – one of whom has retired,” she said. 

She said though some punitive actions were taken against the teachers, it was nothing compared to what she endured for years. “Right from the start of the course, I was targeted for daring to report wrong practices of some of my seniors and teachers to the vice-chancellor,” she alleged. 

Things came to head when her department sent her and one other student to a competition organised by IIT Bombay. “We were asked to present a poster at the competition. I was in my second year. My classmate and I were selected as we had the best internship records. However, since my friend’s internship paper was on IT, she was not comfortable with presenting it,” said the student. 

“So, I sent an email to the department and my guide at the National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research (NCPOR) in Goa – where I did my internship – seeking their permission to use my work at the centre for the presentation,” she said. There was no reply.

“We boarded the train to Mumbai. On the way, I received an email from IIT-Bombay asking me to submit the permission letter. I contacted the department’s student liaison officer, who was also our teacher, for permission. Though my guide at NCPOR said he was okay with my request as long as the department allowed it, the latter denied nod and accused me of plagiarism,” she said. 

The student, who won a gold medal in the individual debate competition at the IIT, got a rude shock upon return when the department served her a memo accusing her of presenting plagiarised material.  “Following my reply, my teachers, including the head of the department, called me for a hearing that was scheduled during the internal examinations. I requested them to hold the hearing after the examinations, but they refused,” she said.

She alleged that during the hearing, the teachers used unparliamentary language. “I recorded the hearing. I did not understand anything as I don’t know Malayalam. My parents heard it and told me that the language used by the teachers was very bad,” she said. Her father then complained to the VC who directed the teachers to refrain from harassing the student. 

An enquiry committee was formed to look into the matter and it found she was being harassed. It directed stern action against the three teachers. Meanwhile, she was marked as failed in the examinations and not considered for allotment of institutions for dissertation.   

“The syndicate will take up the matter on Friday, but I fear the teachers will escape even the very diluted punishment ordered. I am not the only one targeted. Another student left the course following harassment from teachers,” she said.


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