St Xavier’s University Kolkata has come under fire on social media after a former assistant professor was allegedly forced to quit her position over Instagram photos. She alleged that the university charged her with posting “objectionable” and “inappropriate” photos of herself on Instagram. As per an Indian Express report, the academic has now decided to move the Calcutta High Court against the university authorities. Following her allegations, social media erupted in outrage against the university and now, a petition has been started against its vice chancellor.
The change.org petition titled “Launch disciplinary action against Felix Raj (VC – St Xavier’s Kol) with immediate effect” has 372 signatures at the time of writing this article. It has been started by a St Xavier’s University alumnus, Gaurav Banerjee, to the Education Minister of West Bengal, Bratya Basu. It demands that the university authorities should provide an unconditional apology to the former professor and that disciplinary action be taken against VC Felix Raj and the committee.
The petition notes that the academic had posted her photos wearing a swimsuit on her personal Instagram page, which is private; and regardless of it being private, the personal handle of an individual “has no link with the prestige of the university, and nor does it warrant the distress of a guardian to an extent that the professor be relieved of her duties”. It further decries the moral castigation by the university, stating that every individual has the right to express themselves freely in their personal space as long as it does not explicitly involve the university.
“These are the basic tenets of education which any university should be instilling in their students, and such an incident points to a an otherwise aspirational University becoming a hotbed for moral policing as opposed to being a safe and progressive environment for teachers and students alike,” the petition adds.
The petition asks people to sign it if they feel that the university has wronged the academic, and in doing so, has set a “dangerous precedent” for students, teachers and other institutions.
The outrage against Raj has been building up on social media.
For all its public posturing as a seat of "liberal" discourse and culture, Xavier's, as an institution, has always been a bit of an uptight arse. And Fr. Felix Raj has been the torchbearer of this attitude. pic.twitter.com/mH8ob65Etb
— Rahul Mukherji (@RahulMukherji5) August 10, 2022
Yeah. So let's call it out. @JesuitsGlobal Take action against Dr. John Felix Raj for criminal intimidation of a young woman.
— Gaurav (@GK_halfPhd) August 9, 2022
Years of managing the boys only morning college might have really embedded this belief that boys can only be controlled by policing women. Even female teachers!
But this isn’t new. This controlling behavior always existed. Fine within campus still but how can u extend it outside!
— Pratyasha Rath (@pratyasharath) August 10, 2022
The academic, who is an alumna of St Xavier’s College Kolkata, had alleged that the process by which she was forced to quit the institute amounts to sexual harassment and deliberate character assassination. She said that a piece of paper with thumbnails of her photos wearing a swimsuit was passed around among participants during a meeting with the V-C (and six others). The university refuted the allegations and claimed that she had resigned of her own accord.