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!*