The ongoing controversy over the alleged sexual harassment of a doctorate student by a professor in St Stephen’s College has led to various diverse voices coming out from all quarters. A third year student from the college, who talked about the issue with 20-25 fellow students, writes an inside report surrounding this case.
ScoopWhoop presents an inside story shared by a third year student. The account is reproduced as is, without any edits.
There is an air of uncertainty and disbelief in Stephen’s right now. Most of the students who are already enrolled are home for holidays or internships, those who want to enroll are lining up to give their interviews and in the midst of all this hustle bustle, comes the news of sexual harassment charges being levied against one of the Senior Members of the college. Dr. Satish Kumar is an Asst. Professor in Chemistry and also serves as the Bursar of the college. Stephen’s is not new to controversies, whether it be the recent Devansh Mehta controversy or the sexual harassment charges levied against the Librarian of the college in the past. What is even more unsettling about this matter is that the teacher in question is one of the most well respected professors. To make one thing clear, we don’t know what the truth of the claim is nor are we capable of speculating on it. That is for the law to decide. However, the surprise and reluctance to accept for many also deserves to be shown. The closeness of many to the issue makes it really hard to be an objective judge of the situation.
If the allegatios are proven true, we stand with the victim. As Henry Gomes from 3rd year BSc. Chemistry said, “It’s shocking to hear because he’s taught me and he didn’t seem the kind who would do such a thing. Very meek and amicable, he is. He minds his own business in the lab.” On the idea whether he has behaved like this ever in the past, one of his students Yamini Agarwal, 3rd year BSc. Chemistry, told us,” Nothing of this sort has been reported in past and as his student I feel that the incident is not true because he is a respected teacher and many students work under him in lab and he treats everyone with respect.” Most of the people I have talked to (which is around 20-25, small sample size I agree), share almost the same view that it is unbelievable that he could have done something like this. Even all the Stephanian alumni groups have had many people expressing their disbelief at this incident while some see it as part of the failing of the Principal. That said, other than a few people, the alumni is not calling for the Principal’s resignation. They want the law to take its due course. (Newspapers will just about print anything.) This disbelief is not just restricted to students who have studied under him, but also those who worked with him in his capacity as the Bursar. Suchismita Panda from 3rd year History tells us, “I have worked with Satish Sir in my capacity as the Treasurer for The Bengali Literary Society. I have always found his approach and behaviour towards me as above reproach. Moreover, he has also conducted my scholarship interview, where he has always showed decorum worthy of a teaching staff.” Some who did not know him have refrained from openly expressing their opinion so as to not seem insensitive to the complainant/victim. A former student of the Professor who also worked with the aforementioned complainant and Dr. Satish has gone ahead and told us how he is one of the most humble people you can ever come across. The student thinks that it is a media controversy created to defame the college and the Principal. The latest development has been a statement by the Principal of the college, Rev. Dr. Valson Thampu in which he says, “As usual, any rumour about St. Stephen’s is a media goldmine. It is this that encourages certain unscrupulous elements (here I am NOT referring to the complainant) to seek sadistic media limelight at the expense of the college.”
In all honesty, the way the media conducts itself when it comes to issues related to Stephen’s is ridiculous. I myself disagree with many things that Rev. Thampu has said or done, but the efforts by the media to belittle every other aspect of his functioning in the college is sad to say the least.
While Stephen’s is caught up in another controversy, we as the students only hope that whatever is the truth comes out, and soon. This air of uncertainty and mistrust which hangs over the college is both disheartening and disturbing, more so because this sometimes overshadows the other aspects of Stephania that we so dearly cherish.