'No Collaboration Without Apology' : Symbiosis Law School To Alumni Who Criticized College Action 2 Years Ago

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK

12 Jun 2021 1:09 PM GMT

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  • No Collaboration Without Apology : Symbiosis Law School To Alumni Who Criticized College Action 2 Years Ago

    The college has 'blacklisted' alumni who protested the suspension of two girl students who had raised sexual harassment complaints against a faculty.

    Several alumni of Symbiosis Law School(SLS), Pune, were shocked at an e-mail received from their alma mater yesterday, which asked them to apologize to the SLS Director for criticizing an action taken by the institution over two years ago.The underlying issue relates to the suspension of two girl students from Symbiosis Law School, Hyderabad, in October 2018. While the official version was...

    Several alumni of Symbiosis Law School(SLS), Pune, were shocked at an e-mail received from their alma mater yesterday, which asked them to apologize to the SLS Director for criticizing an action taken by the institution over two years ago.

    The underlying issue relates to the suspension of two girl students from Symbiosis Law School, Hyderabad, in October 2018. While the official version was that they were suspended for misconduct and violation of rules, the fact that it closely followed complaints of sexual harassment raised by the girl students against a faculty member gave rise to strong perception that the suspension was a vindictive action.

    The college action against the students had come under widespread condemnation, and a group of 606 alumni endorsed a protest petition which criticized the suspension of students as an unjust and disproportionate response.

    It seems that this conscientious stand taken by the alumni left the institution red-faced. The college suspended collaboration with those former students who chose to spoke against what they perceived as an unjust decision by their alma mater, as revealed by the email received by the alumni now.

    The email was sent by the Alumni Committee SLS in response to the registration made by the former students for the Alumni Meet, 2021, scheduled on June 12.

    "...pursuant to your earlier action against the college authorities, we regret to inform you that as per our records, all collaborations with you have been suspended", said the email received by an alumnus, who had endorsed the letter against the college decision on October 30, 2018. The same email was received by several others as well.

    The email further stated that if the alumnus wished to continue the association with SLS, an apology email should be send to Dr.Shashikala Gurpur, Director of SLS.

    Curiously, the email also attached a "Template" for apology. As per the "Template", the alumnus expressed sincere apology for "inconvenience and hurt" that may have been caused to the institution, after "self-reflection".

    "I strongly believe that the college has our best intentions at heart, and will continue to do so. I would like to regain a cordial relationship with the Institution as well as with you", continued the "Template".

    This demand for apology has not gone down well with many of the alumni. Many of them particularly felt insulted by the 'Template of Apology'. It is understood that some of them have send scathing replies, expressing their disappointment and indignation at the college's demand. Some of them went to the extent of declaring that they are ending all future associations with Symbiosis Law School and asked for deletion of their names from the alumni database.

    Response of Symbiosis Law School

    In an email to LiveLaw, Dr.Shashikala Gurpur, Director of Symbiosis Law School, claimed that 90% of the alumni have given apology letters "for not verifying all the facts before sending a protest petition".

    "Rest of them want to normalise without accountability.  We have moved on but the majority of Alumni want these to be held accountable. Hence we shared a template so that the database can be rectified", Dr.Gurpur said.


    Dr Shashikala Gurpur, SLS Director

    Incident of 2018

    The controversy relates to the suspension of two girls students, who were studying in 4th year BA LLB course then. Before their suspension and consequent eviction from the hostel, the girls were pursuing a sexual harassment complaint against a faculty member, Asst. Professor Srinivas Methuku. Their complaint gained public attention when they posted their allegations of sexual harassment against the faculty in Facebook during the "MeToo" movement of October 2018. Amid public outcry, the faculty was placed under suspension.

    Meanwhile, disciplinary proceedings were initiated against them for allegedly violating hostel rules and misbehaving with security staff.

    The alumni, in their protest petition, said that the actions taken by the college against the students smacked of vindictiveness.

    "...we urge the institution to show restraint, dignity, empathy and understanding while dealing with the students at SLS-H and other campuses, whether in relation to sexual harassment and misconduct, or institutional or infrastructural shortcomings. Given the timing of the formation and findings of the ICC, and the removal of the students from the campus, it is hard to shake off the element of prejudice and bias", the alumni had said in the letter which urged to revoke the suspension of the students.

    It is understood that the suspended students were reinstated in 2019.










     



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