New Delhi: The Madras Christian College (MCC) has sacked a professor from the zoology department after he was found guilty of sexual harassment. R. Raveen and Samuel Tennyson were found guilty by the institute’s internal complaints committee (ICC) of sexually harassing several students during a college excursion in January this year.
While Tennyson was found guilty of abetting Raveen, an assistant professor, action has not been taken against him yet. Tennyson has filed a case in the Madras high court on the issue.
According to The News Minute‘s report on July 16, MCC’s principal Alexander Jesudasan confirmed that Raveen had been fired. “We have dismissed the professor after the ICC found him guilty of multiple cases of sexual harassment against students of the department,” he told the website.
In Tennyson’s case, he said a dismissal order cannot be issued because the matter is sub judice. However, the professor has been ordered by the Madras HC not to enter the campus, Jesudasan said.
A student of the zoology department told The News Minute that Raveen has not visited the college since it re-opened in June. “I had enquired with the other staff of the department and they also said that his attendance book showed that he was ‘officially dismissed as per government norms’,” the student said.
The ICC, constituted by the college on April 6, heard the victims’ allegations on April 9. In its report, the ICC found the professors guilty of sexually abusing the students and has directed the administration to take strict action against them.
“… it is the unanimous finding of the committee that the actions of the respondents, Dr Raveen and Dr Tennyson did constitute sexual harassment by creating a hostile work/study environment that resulted in gender discrimination against complainants,” the report said.
In March, it had come to light that the college had attempted to “bury” the complaints and that it had failed to conform to the UGC’s guidelines regarding the processing of sexual harassment complaints.
Women students had alleged that Raveen had behaved inappropriately with them and passed lewd comments during the department trip in January and that Tennyson had encouraged his behaviour.
According to student testimonies, Raveen and Tennyson verbally and sexually harassed several girls.
Following the trip, the students filed an anonymous complaint with the principal, who forwarded it to the head of the department. By not constituting an ICC, the principal had violated the University Grants Commission’s 2015 regulation, which mandates all sexual harassment cases to be intimated to the ICC of the college.
According to The News Minute, the enquiry initiated at the behest of the complaints ended with the HOD saying that the department would warn the two professors since no previous complaints have been received against them.
However, as these allegations became known, an alumnus from the 1997-2000 zoology batch also disclosed similar instances of harassment from Raveen during a college department trip and revealed that the accused was ‘suspended’ for 15 days after a complaint.
As this deception came to light, and it became evident that the college authorities had deliberately falsified the accused’s record, the students began to protest. This finally prompted the institute to set up the ICC and begin an official inquiry. The committee’s report was released on April 24.
Students of the zoology department expressed relief with the ICC’s findings. One student representative said, “Our allegations have been found to be true. If the management still does not take action, we will definitely protest.”
As the #MeToo movement kicked off in October 2018, several allegations of harassment and abuse have been levelled against a professor at the Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru, and five professors at IIT Roorkee.