‘100 years of patriarchy’: University topper refuses award at centenary celebration in Kerala

While Union Christian College Aluva in Kerala’s Ernakulam district celebrated its centenary, Mileena Saju, the first rank holder of Mahatma Gandhi University in BA History boycotted the program, protesting the misogynistic practices of the college.

On Thursday, Mileena had written a letter to the college principal, informing her boycott of K Narayana Menon Memorial Award, reminding the institution of the denial of justice in two sexual harassment cases, even after the completion of a year.

Last year, UC college witnessed a student movement demanding action against a professor in the English department, after a student reported sexual harassment against him inside the campus.

“However, the Internal Complaint Committee concluded that the professor’s behavior is being misunderstood by students as harassment and it, therefore, recommended counseling for him,” Mileena said.

While many in the college secretly agree that the professor is a repeated sexual predator, the student who filed a complaint against him had to undergo several scrutinizing questions. “She was questioned for the delay in filing a written complaint and her character judged,” added Mileena.

The college took no kind of action against the offender nor offered any support to the victim.

In another instance, a thirteen-year-old daughter of a female professor was ragged with sexually charged comments by a student on campus.

“When the professor and teenager complained along with the two girls that were present in the canteen, disciplinary questions were raised,” Mileena told Maktoob.

UC College students including the Students’ Federation of India (SFI) activists protest the misogynistic practices of the college. Photo: Special arrangement.

The professor was questioned for bringing her child to the campus and the college students who witnessed the ragging were asked why they were loitering around when they had class.

Referring to the hostel rules, Mileena says, “In fact, the college discriminately ‘disciplines’ its female students.” The hostel has an unreasonable curfew time of six and a mandatory rule to be present along with a guardian to go on weekends or return after the curfew to the hostel.

Time and again the students of UC college have protested against these misogynistic practices. In the live casting of the centenary celebration too students took out their protest. “100 years of patriarchy. Reform hostel rules” commented Tessa Sara Kuriakose.

As the Alumni reunion was also a part of the centenary celebration, students were disappointed to hear the long praising speeches which kept a muted silence on the ongoing sexual harassment on the campus.

“Tired of all the pretense,” another student, Tahani commented.

However, as comments in protest increased in numbers, the YouTube channel’s comment box was turned off by the administrators.