Symbiosis University director to go on one month leave after 106 students complain of harassment

[dropcap]O[/dropcap]n Friday, October 19, Symbiosis International University (SIU) received a petition signed by more than a hundred students including alumni who shared detailed accounts of alleged harassment and abuse by the director of Symbiosis Centre for Media and Communication (SCMC), Anupam Siddhartha.

Following the allegations leveled on the director, SIU responded immediately with a stern action against the him  deciding to put Siddhartha on a one month leave pending an inquiry.

A student of the 2016 batch reportedly said, “All signatures and testimonials were independently made, without external pressure or coercion. The letter mentions detailed incidents faced by students and Siddhartha’s behaviour with them. Students from the 2005 batch till the current one have signed.”

“There was already an Internal Complaints Committee (ICC), which had been set up to look into the allegations raised in the past, some of which were against Siddhartha for not taking action on complaints of harassment against other faculty and in earlier cases. However, in the midst of this, we received this letter on Friday evening, signed by 106 students. While Siddhartha was known to be a disciplinarian, some of the allegations were shocking and we immediately referred it to the ICC, who called him on Saturday for investigations. Based on the recommendation of the ICC, which has said that he should stay away from campus duties pending an inquiry, he will be sent on leave from Monday,” Vidya Yeravdekar, principal director of SIU, was quoted as saying by Indian Express.

A petition, which was signed by 106 students including the alumni enunciates, “sudden outburst by SCMC Pune students regarding sexual harassment and abuse cases is due to bigger, institutionalised structures of unadulterated power and bullying, which continue to be actively perpetrated and promoted by Siddhartha” was mailed to the dean of academics and administration SIU, Dr Bhama Venkataramani.

Yeravdekar confirmed that this was an interim action by the Institute and the Internal Complaints Committee investigation was still ongoing. “We will announce the final decision after receiving the ICC’s complete report,” she said.

(With inputs from Agencies)