Professor resigned on her own, no question of forcing: St Xavier’s V-C

Under the spotlight after a professor in St Xavier’s University said she was “forced” to resign last October following a complaint from a parent of a student over her “objectionable” photographs on Instagram, Vice Chancellor Father Felix Raj said “she resigned on her own” though the university “could have terminated her since she was on probation”.

“She was on probation. She served us only for two months. She started in August (2021) and tendered her resignation in October. So there is no question of force. There were some unpleasant developments, of course,” Felix Raj told The Indian Express.

The woman, who wished not to be named, told The Indian Express last week that a “kangaroo court” was held on October 7 in the presence of Vice-Chancellor (V-C) Felix Raj and registrar Asish Mitra where she was “intimidated, bullied and taunted with sexually coloured remarks” and “objectionable insinuations” without any provocation or justification.

Felix Raj said she was complaining now because we had started a process when we received a complaint against her. “Depending on the nature of the complaint, we had to start a process. Possibly she did not like the process she went through. But she did not express it to us (at that time). She rather said give me a chance to speak to the committee, and she was happy that we gave her the opportunity to explain herself. After two weeks, she did a 360 degree turn (by putting in her paper), and that’s what I am not able to understand.”

To her statement that the complaint against her was lodged with an intention to malign her image and that it was not genuine, Felix Raj said the university verified the complaint. “We wanted to establish the complaint and verify it with the teacher. We told the teacher there is a committee (to address the complaint). The complaint was serious in nature as it involves the relationship between a student and a teacher. There is no question of it being dubious,” he said.

When questioned why the university asked her to resign despite her apology letter, Felix Raj said, “The university never wrote to her asking her to resign. When she tendered her apology letter (on October 8), the matter came to an end. Then we were closed for Durga Puja vacation till October 24. She also had Covid-19 at that time. On October 25, when we called her, she said my resignation is there with immediate effect. We accepted that. But to make it clear that no one from the university forced her as we were on puja holiday.”

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To another question on why the university should bother about the personal life of a teacher, he said, “We are not bothered about anyone’s personal life. But it has become public. A parent lodged a complaint about what his son did. We received a complaint. If this was a private affair, then how come the student sees it? If she gives access to students then is it private? The complaint had come from outside.”

The woman had, however, said there was no way those photos could be still accessible since an Instagram story, by default, is live for only 24 hours. “Moreover, my Instagram profile is ‘private’ and not ‘public’ … Those two pictures could not have been viewed by the student weeks later,” she had said.

(With inputs from Ritika Chopra in New Delhi)

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