Kalakshetra sexual harassment row: Students hold stir, administration closes institute
Over 200 students, however, continued their protest late into the night demanding immediate action against the accused.
Published: 31st March 2023 06:52 AM | Last Updated: 31st March 2023 06:52 AM | A+A A-
CHENNAI: After a protest by students at Kalakshetra Foundation on Thursday over the institute’s failure to initiate action against teachers on sexual harassment allegations, the administration has decided to shut the college till April 6.
Over 200 students, however, continued their protest late into the night demanding immediate action against the accused. Talks between the agitating students and institute director Revathi Ramachandran and other officials in the presence of police failed to break the impasse.
As students demanded that the director give them in writing that she would initiate action against the four accused dance teachers, Ramachandran complained of uneasiness and left the protest site. The protestors said they would continue their agitation till they get justice.
Earlier in the day, students of Rukmini Devi College of Fine Arts, Kalakshetra Foundation, were informed through a circular issued by principal Pakala Ramadas that the college will remain shut from March 30 to April 6 and all inmates must vacate their hostel rooms within two days. The college also postponed exams and the circular said new exam dates will be announced later. Many students that TNIE spoke to said they won’t leave the campus despite the closure notice.
‘Harassment charges first came in Dec 2022’
“Closing down the college is an attempt to weaken our protest. But we will not leave the campus until we get justice,” said a student. Some students were upset as it will be difficult for them to leave the campus on such short notice. “I had booked ticket for my hometown on April 12 after completion of my exams but now the college administration is asking us to leave the campus within two days. How is that possible? I cannot book a new train ticket to Kerala within two days,” said another student.
Students have been holding protests on the campus since morning and even boycotted their exams on Thursday. When the students saw the accused teacher present in the morning assembly, they walked out following which he left the place. The students then again gathered under a banyan tree, the usual morning prayer spot on the campus, and staged a silent protest demanding immediate suspension of the accused.
Later, the students held a protest march to the main gate of the institute shouting the slogans “we want justice” and later interacted with reporters. The students demanded action against four dance teachers --- an assistant professor and three other senior repertory dancers.
“These sexual harassment allegations started coming out in December last year but till now the college administration has not taken any action and is busy denying the allegations. We will not tolerate this anymore,” said another student. Many former students and teachers of the institute also supported the protest.
The students’ protest came a day after the chairperson of the National Commission for Women Rekha Sharma visited the campus on Wednesday to inquire about the sexual harassment allegations. Students alleged that they were not given a chance to air their grievances to the NCW chief. Despite repeated attempts, the institute’s director, Revathi Ramachandran, could not be reached for comments on the issue.