Hyderabad: Condemning the English and Foreign Languages University (EFLU) administration’s ‘incompetence’ in dealing with instances of assault, the EFLU Women’s Collective (WC) has said that the environment on the campus is unsafe for students.
The group further said that inappropriate behaviour by professors was allowed by the administration, and people in positions of power at EFLU could not be held accountable for misconduct.
Highlighting multiple issues concerning the administration’s response to an assault incident on the campus on October 18, the WC also condemned the recent statement by the vice-chancellor, and said no action had been taken so far.
As per a media report that appeared on October 24, the V-C of the varsity said that the campus was ‘peaceful’.
“I don’t know how someone can say that there is disturbance in the university just like that. The internal complaints committee (ICC) of the university have conducted the inquiry and submitted the report already. The police have been investigating the matter,” the V-C stated.
However, the EFLU WC responded and said that neither the V-C nor the proctor had directly addressed the students regarding the progress of the investigation.
They also alleged that the professors and students who checked the CCTV footage on the day following the assault had not been contacted in the course of the investigation process that the V-C claims to have been going on.
Professors calling students at inappropriate hours?
Stating that certain professors had been calling up students at inappropriate hours in the recent past, the WC said that they were trying to intimidate and threaten those who are standing in solidarity with the survivors.
“Lack of transparency, coupled with alleged moral policing and victim-blaming, has created an atmosphere of fear, making it difficult for students to speak out against the administration,” said the group.
Moreover, the WC highlighted that the proctor had filed an FIR against 11 students involved in the protest, claiming that the protest was premeditated and aimed at harming him and stirring communal tensions.
“These allegations have intensified the climate of fear on campus and hindered academic and co-curricular activities,” their statement read.
They further alleged that the security guards had “started surrounding and questioning them” if they gathered at one place for some time in groups of more than three.
Additionally, they underlined that no attempts had been made to install lights or CCTV cameras at the site of the alleged sexual assault.
ICC in EFLU goes against UGC guidelines, says WC
Pointing out that the constitution of the ICC of EFLU goes against UGC guidelines and therefore cannot function as it should, the WC highlighted that the panel’s findings were not complete as the student representatives were not elected yet.
As per UGC guidelines, people in senior administrative positions in the higher education institutes, such as vice-chancellor, pro vice-chancellors, rectors, registrar, deans, and heads of departments, shall not be members of ICCs to ensure autonomy of their functioning.
“The appointment of Prof. Anjali Bagde, who is the presiding officer of the ICC and dean of the school of European languages, is a violation and once again raises questions about the transparency of the investigation and the power dynamics involved,” said the WC.
“The students have no faith that a fair investigation will be done with the current proctorial
board in place,” the WC added.
Briefing on EFLU incident
The statement from the Collective came a week after the EFLU administration announced the formation of its ICC.
On October 16, about 300 students held a protest for over 24 hours, demanding the reconstitution of the university’s Sensitisation, Prevention and Redressal of Sexual Harassment (SPARSH) committee.
Hyderabad: Student sexually assaulted after EFLU protests for harassment committee
Students said that the previous SPARSH committee, which was constituted under an EFLU ordinance based on the Sexual Harassment of Women At Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal) Act of 2013, had been defunct since June 2023.
Just a day after the protest, the incident of sexual assault took place on the night of October 18 at around 10 pm, which led to further protests against the administration by students on the night of October 19.
In response, EFLU proctor filed a complaint against students with the Osmania University Police and 11 students were booked.
The students said they would decide their future course of action after waiting for the action by the authorities on the alleged sexual assault.