The Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) formed by Madras Christian College (MCC) to inquire about sexual misconduct allegations against zoology professor has concluded. ICC in its report has charged Professor R Raveen with sexual harassment of female students. His colleague Samuel Tennyson has also been held guilty of encouraging his lewd behaviour.
The case emerged last month when students of the zoology department at MCC alleged Professor Raveen of misbehaving with female students during their ‘department trip’ to Karnataka. The students alleged Raveen of touching them inappropriately, passing lewd comments about their dressing and breaching their privacy. The trip was held in January this year.
After the trip, students collectively but anonymously submitted a complaint of harassment against the accused professor to their Head of Department (HoD). However, anguished at the inaction of the HoD, 36 out of the 50 students who were a part of the Karnataka excursion, filed a formal complaint and added their signatures.
The HoD had invited the students to conduct an informal inquiry about the incident. However, this meeting yielded no results and the HoD let off the two ‘guilty’ professors with just a warning instead of taking strong action against them. He justified his action since ‘no previous complaints had been received against the two,’ according to him.
When the incident ensued, students from the zoology department batch of 1997-2000 came forward to share similar instances of harassment by Professor Raveen during their college excursion. Back then, the HoD had ‘suspended’ the accused for 15 days. Although there is no documented record of the suspension as this suspension had coincided with their summer holidays.
“When we realized the college department had lied to us, we began to protest. This is when the ICC was set up and a formal inquiry began,” divulged a student on the matter.
The committee comprising external member and lawyer Sheila Jayaprakash held multiple rounds of inquiry. Following this, the committee reserved its findings on the issue before finally releasing the report on April 24. The same day a copy of this report was handed over to the students and the Board of Directors.
The ICC upheld that Raveen and Tennyson’s actions amounted to sexual harassment. “It is the unanimous finding of the committee that the actions of the respondents, Dr. Raveen and Dr. Tennyson did constitute sexual harassment by creating a hostile work/study environment that resulted in gender discrimination against complainants,” said the report, adding that the committee is forwarding it to the principal for appropriate action against the two professors.
The students expressed their happiness over the committee’s report, it’s approach and observations. They said they now look forward to the college principal to take action against the guilty professors as per the findings of this report.