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Harass axe on Presi student

- First-year boy suspended for a semester

A BA first-year student of Presidency University has been suspended for a semester and asked to meet a counsellor following complaints of sexual harassment by two girls of the same class.

A disciplinary committee that met on Thursday endorsed the recommendations of the university’s “committee against sexual harassment”.

The suspension was announced in the presence of the boy’s father, who had been summoned by the disciplinary committee.

“We received (two) complaints and thoroughly investigated them. Appropriate action has been taken based on the complaints,” vice-chancellor Malabika Sarkar told Metro on Friday.

During the period of suspension, the accused would be barred from entering the campus.

The two first-year girls had lodged written complaints with the dean of students, Deboshruti Roychowdhury, in the middle of last month. While one girl alleged that the boy had sexually harassed her on the campus, the other accused him of harassing her in a cinema. They also alleged that the boy had sent them lewd text messages.

Roychowdhury had forwarded the complaint to the committee against sexual harassment, set up a year ago in compliance with UGC guidelines to deal with such complaints. The committee — comprising teachers, officials and a student of the university, as well as outsiders — met several times over the past month to probe the charges.

“We summoned the accused and the complainants. We spoke to all three and examined their versions. The mobile phones of the three students were examined. The probe found the boy guilty of the charges brought against him,” said an official of the university.

The official added the boy “requires extensive counselling”. He has been asked to visit a counsellor, engaged by the university to talk to students held guilty of sexual harassment, every month for six months.

“We will seek a report from the counsellor each month. Based on the reports, the authorities would take a call on whether the suspension would be lifted or renewed,” said an official.

A letter mentioning details of the punishment will be despatched to the student’s address next week.

Asked why the student has been asked to go to a counsellor chosen by the university, the official explained: “It is necessary for proper monitoring and treatment. If he goes to any other counsellor, we will not be sure whether the student will properly share his problems with him/her,” said the official.

The student will miss classes of the third semester because of the suspension. If the suspension is lifted, he can start attending classes of the fourth semester and has to write the third semester exams along with that of the fifth.

The university is also planning to ask the girls to get counselled.

“They are still in trauma. So we might ask the two to visit a counsellor of their choice,” said a teacher.