'Have strict zero tolerance policy on sexual harassment', NLSIU says alumni letter misrepresents facts
Bengaluru, June 24 (IANS) The reputed National Law School of India University (NLSIU) has said that it has strict zero tolerance policy on sexual harassment.
The law school said this while clarifying the open letter by the alumni, which questioned the action taken against student facilitators, who had voiced on a sexual harassment case.
The NLSIU released its statement on Thursday night.
The alumni of NLSIU, in an open letter, slammed the institute for punishing two girl students who raised voice against sexual harassment on Thursday. The alumni have appreciated the courage of the girls for choosing not to apologise and cough up the fine as directed by NLSIU in connection with the incident.
NLSIU in its statement said that the an open letter in this connection misrepresents the action taken by the university against students as a failure to take sexual harassment seriously.
The statement maintains that the student facilitators received correspondence from a person outside the university. The facilitators then circulated an anonymous statement on behalf of the complainant, detailing the alleged abuse, naming the accused student, and disclosing sensitive personal information. This was a violation of code.
It further stated, "NLSIU has never prevented its students from discussing issues of sexual harassment. However, to use NLSIU digital resources to publicly name someone in a matter that would be prejudicial to that person's reputation is not conducive."
The alumni, about 179 of them, had expressed deep disappointment over NLSIU's decision against two girl students, who had red flagged the case of sexual harassment by a male undergraduate student.
They had also expressed their concern over the handling of the issue. "It has come to knowledge that NLSIU initiated disciplinary proceedings against two female student facilitators appointed under its Code to Combat Sexual Harassment, for narrating a particular survivor's experience of sexual harassment by a current student of NLSIU," the letter stated.
It further said, two facilitators narrated the incident over email and on a private Facebook group comprising students of the university. They did that upon being requested to do so by the survivor, who is not an NLSIU student. Notably the question of a confidentiality breach does not arise as there were no ongoing proceedings against under the code to combat sexual harassment.
For their act of sharing details regarding an instance of sexual harassment, NLSIU found the student facilitators guilty of major misconduct and under its disciplinary rules. As a penalty it directed that they either issue a public apology or pay a significant monetary fine, the letter stated.
"As alumni of NLSIU, we commend the courageous and principled distance taken by the student facilitators. Further, we unequivocally condemn NLSIU finding that student facilitators are guilty of major misconduct," the alumni stated.
"The proceedings against students are shrouded in secrecy and the principles of natural justice are not being followed which is deeply unfair. NLSIU must not attempt to silence the voice of survivors of sexual harassment and those who stand in solidarity with them, the alumni stated."
The letter over the issue has stirred up a big controversy. According to sources, the accused is studying in the fourth year. He was a CLAT topper. Meanwhile, the victim had stated that the development was shocking. She also maintained that this will bear negative consequences on victims who wants to come forward and speak up.