'Major misconduct': NLSIU debars students for sharing sexual harassment experience; alumni condemn

There was no breach of confidentiality by the students as there were no ongoing proceedings being conducted by the Sexual Harassment Inquiry Committee.

NLSlU BangaloreNLSlU Bangalore

Anu Parthiban | June 23, 2022 | 09:58 AM IST

NEW DELHI: The alumni of National Law School of lndia University, Bangalore (NLSlU) have condemned administration for initiating disciplinary proceedings against two female student facilitators for narrating a survivor’s experience of sexual harassment by a current student of NLSIU.

The two female student facilitator were appointed under its Code to Combat Sexual Harassment (SHARIC).

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In an open letter, the alumni stated, “The narration of the incident of sexual harassment took place over email, as well as on a private Facebook group with students from the University pursuant to a request made by the survivor in question. The facilitators shared details regarding this instance of sexual harassment upon being requested to do so by the survivor in question. As this survivor was not a student at NLSIU, she was unable to share details regarding the instance of sexual harassment on these platforms, herself.”

There was no breach of confidentiality by the student facilitators as there were no ongoing proceedings being conducted by the Sexual Harassment Inquiry Committee under the Code to Combat Sexual Harassment (SHARIC), the statement read.

The letter further said, the NLSIU found the student facilitators guilty of “major misconduct” under its disciplinary rules. It has also asked the students to issue a public apology or pay a significant monetary fine as penalty.

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The student facilitators decided not to apologize as that may have had the effect of stifling the voices of any peers who wished to share their own stories of sexual harassment or violence at the hands of other students in NLSIU and thus chose to pay the monetary fine imposed upon them.

The university administration removed them from all positions of responsibility, including their positions as student facilitators under NLSIU's SHARIC Code.

Expressing disappointment over the action taken by the university, the alumni said, “We unequivocally condemn NLSIU's finding that the student facilitators are guilty of "major misconduct". It has also come to our attention that the student facilitators have been barred from sharing the order of the DARIC committee, so we are unable to even peruse the logic and reasoning of the committee. This means that the proceedings are shrouded in secrecy, and the principles of natural justice are not being followed, which is deeply unfair.”

The alumni also pointed out at the grave instances of sexual violence in the past at the university. In 2018 during the #MeToo movement, dozens of victims of sexual harassment, who were largely women, had shared their experiences over internal email, as well as on the same Facebook groups.

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