After The Hindu reported (Hassled by ‘mentors’, JNU students complain to panel; August 26) that some Ph.D. students from the Jawaharlal Nehru University’s School of International Studies were allegedly being “mentally harassed” by their mentors, the School — while stating that they were “isolated cases involving very few faculty” — has decided to call a meeting on Tuesday to see how the matter can be “resolved”.
“We were quite shocked at the whole thing and have taken serious note of it, but the entire school is not like that. There may be a few among the faculty and we will speak to them about it once we find out who they are,” said Dean of SIS, Girijesh C. Pant, who was accompanied by five other professors from SIS who were familiar with the issue. They said that the students usually had a say in choosing their mentors or “supervisors” and could not understand why they were facing a problem.
“There is recourse available to a student, they are not cornered or totally helpless in such situations,” said Prof. Vijayalakshmi.
The students had petitioned for help to the 10-member committee formed after the July 31 incident where a female student was attacked with an axe by a male student. They wanted their mentors or “supervisors” changed. “It can be done, but a supervisor is usually chosen after a lot of deliberation and according to the Ph.D. subject of the student. It is difficult to change the supervisor in the later stages,” added Prof. Pant.
The students, however, are not very excited at the prospect of the meeting. “There will be all the deans from the centres, other faculty and students, and we all know that there will be many who will refuse to speak up in front of the teacher whom they are accusing,” said one student.
But they do want the faculty to be more receptive and understanding towards them. “They sometimes just do not listen to us, they just shoot down our suggestions and make us feel stupid in front of everyone,” the student said.
Some of the students said that after the news report and the petition, some of the professors have been on the alert and on the best of behaviour . “This mentor who would ask me to fetch him tea has suddenly become very polite and fellowship forms are being signed on time.’’
But they are apprehensive that this phase would not last long.