Research scholar accuses HoD at Annamalai University of discrimination

N Rakshita (30), a trans person from Cuddalore, filed a complaint alleging mistreatment at the hands of HOD J Jayabharathi six months after she joined the university, in February.

Published: 15th September 2023 08:29 AM  |   Last Updated: 15th September 2023 08:29 AM   |  A+A-

Annamalai University

Annamalai University

Express News Service

CUDDALORE:  The head of the Department of Chemistry at Annamalai University has come under fire for allegedly discriminating against a research scholar, who is a trans person. Even though the university denied discrimination on any grounds and the HOD denied the allegations, the vice-chancellor has assured a meeting between both parties to sort out differences, if any.

N Rakshita (30), a trans person from Cuddalore, filed a complaint alleging mistreatment at the hands of HOD J Jayabharathi six months after she joined the university, in February. In her complaint to the secretary of higher education, Rakshita claimed that she noticed discrimination first when Jayabharathi denied her admission allegedly because no faculty member had come forward to mentor her.

"Later, I spoke to faculty members and one of them agreed to mentor me. At that time, I found out through them that the HOD allegedly did not want me in the department and blamed it on the faculty members. Essentially, due to my sexual orientation and because I belong to the SC community," Rakshita told TNIE.

Even during the admission process, she said, Jayabharathi had asked her why she wanted to join the university. "When I said that I was dependent on my elderly mother and that the stipend (that a SC candidate is entitled to) would help my research, she made a derogatory comment about my caste. She also warned other research students not to associate with me and spread rumours that damaged my reputation," claimed Rakshita.

Apart from causing trouble for her on several occasions, Rakshita said, many other SC students crossed swords with her, with some even suspended under the guise of disciplinary action.

As a result of the complaint, Rakshita was barred from attending the Research Advisory Committee meeting that is held every six months and was scheduled on a Thursday. "I got to know through my mentor that the HOD wants me to write an apology for the complaint," Rakshita said.

Dismissing the allegations, Jayabharathi said, "I received complaints from students that Rakshita would fall asleep and talk during the lab. I warned her and she retaliated by filing these complaints." Responding to the allegations around admissions, Jayabharathi said the admission committee initially hesitated to admit Rakshita because no one volunteered to mentor her, but she supported it and spoke to faculty members. She added that confusion also arose when Rakshita's name accompanied a photograph from before the transition. Rakshita said her marksheets carry her birth name and because of confusion she had to apply with the same.

Annamalai University Vice-Chancellor RM Kathiresan said he has issued a warning to the HOD based on Rakshita's complaint. "We will soon arrange a meeting between both parties to address these issues," he added and reiterated that there were no caste or gender-based bias in the university.

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