Wednesday, September 28, 2022

St. Xaviers University professor quits: Sues the university

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A former lecturer at St. Xavier’s University in Kolkata has decided to sue the school’s administration in the Calcutta High Court, months after she was “forced” to retire after a parent complained about her “objectionable” Instagram photos. The woman said that by the end of the next week, a writ petition against the university administration will be submitted to the relevant court.

A “kangaroo court” was held in front of Vice-Chancellor (V-C) Felix Raj and Registrar Asish Mitra. During this time, the woman claimed, she was “intimidated, bullied and taunted with sexually coloured remarks” and “objectionable insinuations” without cause or justification.

“I was informed that a father of a college student had discovered that his son was seeing my personal Instagram photos, which he deemed unpleasant and on the verge of nudity. Two photos of myself in a blue bathing suit were taken in my room and uploaded as an Instagram story last year, a few weeks or months before I started college. There was no way the pictures could still be viewable given that an Instagram story is only available for 24 hours by default. In addition, my Instagram profile is “private” rather than “public.” The pupil could not have viewed those two photos weeks later, the teacher claimed.

She began studying there in August of the previous year. She said that on October 7, 2021, she got a call from the vice chancellor’s office requesting her to show up for a meeting with vice chancellor Felix Raj that day at 4 o’clock. “I don’t understand how the university got access to those images. I couldn’t bear to look at the remaining photos at that point since I was so upset and ashamed. In a meeting, without my knowledge or permission, my photographs were being sent to strangers. Such Instagram stories may only be seen by third parties by hacking or if someone captured screenshots of the images before they were uploaded and then shared them.

The academic, who has doctorates from two institutions in Europe, said that the way she was forced to retire amounted to “sexual harassment.” She wrote in her resignation letter to the V-C, “You have not offered any explanation about how the photographs, which were posted months before I joined the institution and shared with a select, tightly-controlled audience for 24 hours only, were accessed, nor have you given any assurance that the photographs will be destroyed. Instead, arbitrary and archaic notions of “morality” have been employed to denigrate and objectify my pictures and my body.

Tuesday calls and text messages to the mobile phones of the vice chancellor Felix Raj and the registrar Asish Mitra went unanswered.

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