Should someone having a pending inquiry in a sexual harassment case be promoted to an important university administrative post? The “yes” or “no” to this question is being put to vote at Jawaharlal Nehru University in the scale and manner of a proper students’ union election.
The reason? A senior professor having a pending sexual harassment inquiry against him by the Gender Sensitisation Committee Against Sexual Harassment (GSCASH) was promoted as the Dean in one of the schools.
“In a case of sexual harassment where it is a student versus a teacher, the order from the GSCASH is usually sent to the Executive Council of the university for further action and what frightens us is that the Dean is in a position that entitles him to be part of the Executive Council,” said JNUSU president Akbar Choudhary.
“The Election Committee which conducts the students’ union elections has been tasked with conducting these elections too. A secret ballot is being used for the purpose,” said former union president and Democratic Students’ Federation member Lenin Kumar. “An appeal signed by 28 faculty members was made to the administration to prevent the accused from becoming the Dean till the inquiry was over. We had also submitted an appeal with the signatures of more than 2,000 students. The administration, however, has ignored all appeals and has refused to take any action. This incident not only exposes the nature of the JNU administration, but also impacts the gender-just space on campus and an institution like the GSCASH,” he added.
On the first day of the referendum, around 1,500 votes were polled. The result of the referendum is expected early on Saturday morning.