Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Do It For The Memories

I've been a part of JUDE since 2002, and it was really, for me, quite momentous, because getting here meant a radical career-change and the loss of a year, the better part of which was spent wanting to jump out the window of an important law school.
These five years have been astounding. College is like a second home, and I remember the bunch of us coming in for adda sessions even on Sundays in the undergrad days. I'm using cliches here, but really, we're a big family - our relationship with the faculty is the cause for envy of students from other colleges, and I know, because I've had too much of "oh my God, your profs are sooo coool!" to hear from my non-JU friends. College has given me memories, stories to share with my kids - like the time the entire city was flooded but an enterprising bunch of us waded through the water to get to college, because of course we wouldn't do classes, and the next thing we know is that Tintin Da, with generous foresight has made elaborate plans for us to watch LOTR: Return of The King - with complicated contraptions like projectors white walls laptops and wotnot. I will not forget Prodosh Da, who does not grudge me exhilarating addas and advice on a possible future on the jatra stage :-, despite my having attended only 3 of his classes in these 5 years [and those because I couldn't escape. I mean, really, I haven't a thing against the jolly man and he really is a delight - but Old English? Declensions? Nominative sumthingortheothers? There's only so much a girl can take]. He does recommend considering leading roles in Kobore Kaadchhe Konkaal, and a namechange to the likes of an Amodini Debi or summat, but I'm convinced he means well.
I will not easily forget The Family. It is hard to not remember being absolutely mesmerised by ADG's lectures on the Theban plays - it is difficult to come across another professor who can so completely take you inside the world of a play, can make you understand the characters, be maddened by the plight of Oedipus - despite being perfectly logical and strictly academic in the way he delivered his lectures. Sukanta Da, easily recognised as a legend in academia, manages somehow to make you think independently despite giving you different points of view and different critiques of a work over various centuries. Supriya Di has the ability to make a man as unbearable and unforgiveable as Derrida worth paying attention to. I really must apologise because this just trivialises the immense value and depth of the lectures of each of these three individuals. I can only perfectly honestly say that you come out of a class taken by any one of The Family members, and you know you're immensely lucky to be a part of JUDE.
We share an amicable relationship with our faculty, almost all of whom are eminently approachable and I can safely speak for myself - will get you out of an awful mess without even telling you it was they that saved your ass.
So when I am interviewed by the media, and I come home and see "JU tey Sex Scandal" all over the bangla news channels, it is no wonder that I feel outraged. I'm not sure that I am yet at liberty to speak freely about this but - a certain, new member of the faculty has gone to press, having made allegations of sexual harassment against ... get this ... SIXTEEN female students in the department ... plus 3 boys. The allegations are absolutely false - I mean, seriously, would you believe that sixteen girls have at once decided to throw caution to the wind and jeopardised their careers by making sexual propositions to the concerned professor in their ... hold your breath .. mid and end semester ANSWER SCRIPTS? This has been simmering for a while - this issue, and we had kept discreetly silent, in the hopes that the University would handle the issue. We have a lot of respect for our department, and we did not wish to go to Press and bring this dirty, ghastly, farcical issue out in the open. But to come home and find the news showing photocopies of answerscripts where students have allegedly written "I want to have sex" and obscenities, all of which are in block letters, mind, so that it's very difficult to match handwriting- well, if now's not the time to talk then I don't know when is.
I want to furnish all the details about this matter, but I need to speak to my Department first to clarify that this is OK. Also, Rimi, who is far more lucid and articulate than I can ever hope to be, has promised to blog about this in detail, so those of you who want to get the full picture, watch out for her post. I shall cross-link it soon as she puts it up. In the meantime, chew on this - a professor hauls up an unfortunate First year student, claiming she has harassed him by making innuendoes in an answer she wrote on William Blake. Sure, happens all the time. :-[
Two, [forgive me, I'm not sure that I'm proceeding in chronological order, but I am listing things that have occurred], this same professor, sent an inappropriate sms to a girl in his course, and then flatly denied having sent it, saying that his phone had been hacked into - and there's a background to this story too, that I may elaborate but not right now, but it's been established that the cellphone number was his.
Three, he put up a notice in October last year, of a list of candidates (all female) whose answer scripts were allegedly "disputed". He refused to explain to the students why this was so, saying only that their answer scripts were with the Registrar. The list that he put up was not countersigned by the Head of the Department, the move to send answerscripts of the JUDE students to the University office was not made in consultation with the Head either, I think- all of which is in violation of protocol.
Come endsems, same rigmarole, more names added to the ominous 'list'. I'm skipping details, but the next thing we know is that our illustrious showman has sent in an appeal to the authorities asking them to conduct a formal enquiry into the actions of 16 students [more to be added as enquiry is under way - list to include 3 boys] who he alleges, have sexually harassed him in their answer scripts. The students involved express utter shock, and why wouldn't they, since they themselves were in the dark about having committed such offences.
Each and every student in the list is interrogated, and although the information was kept confidential for a long time, now that photocopies of their answer scripts are being bandied about on TV, I might as well come out and say that the enquiry yielded 2 bits of information. That almost all the objectionable parts were written in block letters (with a few minor exceptions for, credibility, I suppose. Or variety), often written over those words that the girls had scratched out while writing their papers, and that our - let's call him a dull man, though he's anything but - had not submitted the original answer scripts, even though he was way past the deadline for submission. All this while, he's been not only making false allegations, but he's also been sitting on University property, causing the results of 130 Masters students to be withheld, wreaking havoc on those who want to apply abroad this year, and those others like myself, who shall be out of college and jobhunting before you can say eminem. And about the obscenities? Let's just say they were outrageously obscene, as has been dramatically shown in close-up on TV all of today. Also, this student from the North-East, who can't speak, let alone write, a word of Bangla? Well, she wrote some juicy things too. In Bangla. How fascinatingly believable. The reason for this slight faux pas on the part of the admirable scriptwriter [of this our story] may have been that because the answer scripts don't have the students' names on them, communities may have gotten mixed up, in this bid toward uniformity in madness.
Oh, and did I omit this? He's also suing a bunch of the faculty and the administration on ... oh I don't really know - it could be anything really, with this individual - shall we call him a man-git? And today, he took the cake by going into a TV studio with photocopies of students' answer scripts, the originals of which are we have no idea where. Tra la la. all in a day's work. Students' careers be hanged, I'm just gonna go nuts and screw up everybody I know's lives. And why he refuses to show the originals to anybody at all is a mystery. We're making our own conjectures - feel free to make yours.
It's 1 in the morning now, and I've been stuck in the mire that is this controversy for the last 12 hours. I feel sick. And it isn't just me, we're all in it - the entire English Department. Some of us students have been interviewed by at least 4 TV channels through the day. The man himself was present at one of these TV studios, and there was a live little tete-a-tete with him, where he, among other things, shrieked at me from the sets demanding to know how dare I speak on this issue seeing as how I'm not even a 'disputed' candidate. Perhaps he failed to notice that most of the students speaking on the issue were not 'disputed' students. Because, even if one were to grant the response of 1 viewer who dialled-in to the live programme to voice his/her opinion on this matter - that JU is a den of decadence where *shock!horror!Ye gads!* even the women smoke and really what more can you expect of a place like that - despite it all, we share the common JUDEan spirit [and just this once, I don't mean alcohol] - we're all in this together because of our love for JUDE and because of the tremendous respect we have for the department, the faculty, and all that each one of us has got from it. And I know I speak on behalf of every JUDEan, when I say that the entire department is with the students who are being defamed with these farcical allegations - they have our full support and we fully understand that there is not an iota of truth in the offences that they have been accused of. If you've only seen us lighting a cigarette or discussing the avant-garde, then you've clearly ignored the strong feeling of solidarity that exists between us, and our ability to speak up for and to uphold the source of pride that is our institution. Nobody's going to burst in with a [if I may quote our mono-marvel] "cock-and-bull story" and malign this place that we call home, and get away with it.
We don't know why he's doing this. Some of us have an idea he might be schizophrenic. We really don't know. All that I can say is that his allegations, and the repercussions of what he's doing are all sickening, and all seem to be the work of a mind that is in urgent need of treatment. In the true legacy of Gandhistic thought, I wish him a speedy recovery from whatever dangerous disease it is that he is suffering from.
But to be more to the point and I say this especially to my fellow batchmates and uggs, the issue at hand is to get him to return the original answer scripts and to have our results published, because too many people are being jeopardised by this delay, and also because this breach of service rule is an important allegation against him as this affects the student body at large. I know this is too late in the day for an announcement here, but I've already posted about this on the Blab Forum - we're meeting this morning at 10:30 in college, and going to the VC to ask of the outcome of a letter that has apparently been sent to the mano of all men, asking him to return all original scripts by 11 a.m. today under threat of legal action. Should the scripts not be returned, we need to have a discussion with the VC - I don't want to repeat all this here, go check the forum.
But more importantly, show up. We're going to go through this together, because you know there are innocent people being grievously wronged here, and because it isn't very nice to have reporters and camera crew taking shots of our ledge and our building and going "sex scandal" at the back of their minds. We need to put an end to, as Azeem so succinctly put it - 'this "sex scandal" with no sex in it'.

update: you have got to read rimi's post for a bit-by-bit account of this whole fiasco. it's detailed and articulate. *go rimi!*

17 comments:

Rimi said...

Peep, your kindness and capacity for blatant lies know no limits, however I shall graciously bow my thanks.

I echo every word of this wonderful post, but especially the first part about teacher-student camaraderie. To think this happened in JUDE is a shock I'm still not completely over.

Oh, and I especially liked those little hints to the gentleman's name. Most funny and god knows, we could all do with a laugh right about now.

thalassa_mikra said...

Just came from Rimi's blog to read your post. Good for you for standing up to the man in the studio.

Ancalagon The Black said...

Ms Raven, inform all involved students to draft a common statement and stick to it... they should also hire common legal personnel and form a joint counter effort against this person...

Due to case politics et al, this professor will not be punished, ask all involved people to be very careful... that is how it is... we have practically no legal framework to speak of...

Insiya said...

Like Amlanda said the other day, nothing will change in the dept in terms of our relationship with each other and the faculty. Most assuring the Man is.

panu said...

well done.... have linked you to me. Not personally, though...

samit said...

great post. good luck. watched the completely biased tv report yesterday, and was shocked by the completely outrageous behaviour displayed by this teacher, and the show host. a lot of people should lose their jobs for this.
also, its great that your profs are taking this as seriously as it deserves to be taken, and are helping out. not sure what the rest of us can do, but if there's anything, do let us know.

Dreamcatcher said...

Brilliant post.

saptarshi said...

Good post.I have been long associated with people from your JUDE to know that the man is lying.

kaichu said...

rohini.

much thanks.

you and rimi both do an excellent job. and frankly, we needed both. sorely.

your om, better than anybody's!

Dhruva said...

My knee-jerk reaction would be 'screw them', but then, that could draw more charges of sexual harassment.

* deep breath *

dreamer said...

As far as I know the hacking allegation has been substantiated by the cyber crime cellof Kolkata police.
And the letter that was sent to the lecturer's wife was written by a girl who later confessed of doing that mischievous act, after a hand writing expert confirmed her hand writing in the concerned letter.
The post seems to be extremely biased and an attempt to malaign the character of a lecturer and trivialize a serious matter by avoiding detailed scrutiny of the whole matter.

DD said...

who the fuck is this above me?

Bishu said...

As a jheel-ke-uspaar fella, I always envied the cordial relation Arts Faculty students and profs enjoyed. But as they say it takes only one bad apple to spoil the entire basket. Still knowing some of the good guys in Arts Faculty I hope that good sense will prevail soon. All the best for the students who are now held up in this fiasco.

chitra said...

Who is this lecturer? Brad Pitt or something?? that so many girls are itching to sleep with him???

ekebaare jaataa

but from an obj point of view - i must ask - what does he have to gain from it? a book? movie rights? i knew we were aping the US - but this is too much for India!!

Also my curious mind wonders - is there a trouble maker among the students who started this all and then tried to save himself/herself by spreading this to other answer papers and hence creating confusion? Just a thought...

Sunayana Roy said...

You go, kid. Write on. In my own post I've mentioned names. (Got no reason not to, thank god.)

rainbeau_peep said...

Everyone,
I'm going to have to apologise in advance for being perhaps a little cold and politically correct in my comments section. I wasn't going to reply at all till some other issues are sorted out, but I see there are some readers who remain misinformed. I'm going to have to make clarifications, although perhaps even this is inadvisable considering the point at which the matter stands right now. To JUDEans, I assure you I will try to do this without divulging crucial details.

rimi,
Hmm. Yes, trouble brewing. Be a little careful, will ya?

thalassa_mikra,
Thanks for your support. We're all doing our best.

anc the black,
Thanks for the suggestions. No, really, it matters to us that this affects you. Steps are being taken, [which is obvious, cuz we aren't gonna sit tight, are we?] but I'm not at liberty to talk about our plan of action. Once we're ready to go public, I'll keep everyone posted. *or pass the buck to Rimi, who really does this better*
Did you mean "caste" politics? In case that's what you meant, I will have you know that a majority of the involved/affected students are from the SC/ST. I won't say more.

insiya,
The atmosphere in the dept. may have been vitiated by whatever is going on, and this really is a humiliating issue that we have to deal with - but believe me when I say this, I have never felt more proud of being a JUDEan. The way the profs are supporting us, speaking on behalf of us, building up our morale, and the way students themselves have come together (I find myself speaking to people whose names I don't even know, like they've been friends all along) is very humbling.

panu,
Abar baaje joke chharli? Toke niye jey ki korbo, bhebe payi na.

samit,
Thanks a million for offering to help. Even the fact that you don't wish to see us doing "kaan dhorey utthbosh" for the gross misdeameanour of expressing ourselves in English means a lot right now. Every tiny gesture of support is reassuring. Although Rimi has tried to be as detailed as possible, I have to say that the matter is far more complicated than we are willing to talk about at the moment. We are thankful that the information we have provided/are able to provide is enough to convince you of how laughable the allegations are, and consequently how heinous it is to jeopardise careers and defame students on the basis of one man's .. uhm ... psychotic convictions.

dreamcatcher,
Thanks. I've asked this before, and I have to ask again - I know I must've seen you, but which one are you?

saptarshi,
Lol. Thank you, that honestly means a lot to us. But haven't we also managed to convince you on the basis of what you've read that the man is lying? It's disheartening to see how one man is attempting to demolish all the years and years of work put in by the Department to make it a centre of excellence [we're the only english department in the country to have been awarded the Centre of Advanced Studies status by the UGC] - all we can say is that he shan't succeed. The truth will be out soon. How soon, is what we're trying to work out.

kaichu,
Lol, you remember! Thenkew - I just wish I could do something a bit more constructive than just blog about how angry, helpless and upset I am. We are. And even this post I think really simplifies how deeply we're affected by this - how this goes against every thing, every damn thing that JUDE stands for- against every value, ethic, spirit that represents JUDE- I can't even express it clearly. Uff, maddening.

dhruva,
Them? Him, you mean?
Absolutely NOBODY wants to, I assure you. Nobody ever did.

dreamer,
1. Either you are genuinely grossly misinformed or you are trying to provoke me into revealing information that I cannot provide for now. The cyber crime cell of KP has substantiated nothing of the sort, is all I will say.
2. The letter you refer to, allegedly written by one of the students, was typeset. A handwriting expert could not have confirmed her handwriting because the letter didn't have her handwriting. I can reiterate that she didn't write/compose any such letter, but perhaps you will choose to disbelieve me?
3. I did not post details of the matter because my fellow JUDEan has done it already, and quite competently too, on her own blog. I have instead linked to her post. Some information cannot be revealed to the public [yet] given the gravity of the situation and the fact that the matter is sub judice.
4. I have expressed my views, on my blog, about a man who has been constantly vilifying the institution [and its components thereof] that I am proud of. My association with this institution has been longer than this individual's, my allegiance to it is clearly stronger.
I do not feel the need to justify my style of writing. It is enough that I have been honest.

dd,
I think we will hear from him/her again.
Since you've commented here, let me point this out here itself - you've mentioned on rimi's blog about alimuddin street's involvement. Because we have no proof of such involvement in the appointment of the prof concerned, therefore this issue is not germane to the discussion. I am spelling this out because we don't want comments from readers saying that we are trying to win support by being biased. We want to show you through the facts already stated, that his case is very very weak.

bishu,
Thank you for your support. I cannot express in words how amazingly our professors are dealing with this situation. It is sad and ironic that something like this has happened in a department that houses such valuable human material. We have role models in our professors, we are empowered by them.

chitra,
puro zyata byaparta.
I'm itching to say certain things in response to your comment, but alas, this is a time that calls for political correctness.
However. See, there's always an invigilator during semester exams [or any exam .. class test . . whatever], right? Not more than three people [preferably two] are allowed to sit per bench. For a particular troublemaking student to write obscenities in the answer scripts of more than 16 examinees, she [or he. boys have also been accused of sexual harassment of the prof] would have to hop skip jump across the room, and make quite a spectacle of him/herself, wouldn't he? Post the exam, all answer scripts are handed over to the invigilator following which I don't even know where they go - some severely confidential place - the practical guess is to the co-ordinator of the course on which the students were examined, which in this case would be the professor concerned.
What i'm trying to say is, it's impossible for a student to get hold of answer scripts once they've been given up to the supervising teacher.

sunayana,
Keeping in mind the the course of action we are drawing up, I don't think it is advisable to mention names at the moment. Even though the matter is out in the open, we need to proceed cautiously for now, making consideration for legalities.
Entirely unrelated, but I have never come across an infant with as much personality as the Bhaeblet exhudes in his photographs. Congratulations on motherhood. :-]

Dhruva said...

Them, actually. He and his supporters.

Yes, I figured. :D