A few days after director of Symbiosis Centre for Media and Communication (SCMC) Anupam Siddhartha was asked to go on leave by the Symbiosis International University (SIU), following complaints by 106 students who accused him of bullying, harassment and ignoring sexual harassment complaints, now 192 students and 39 parents have petitioned SIU to reinstate him. The petition states that their objective is to ‘highlight his ownership and accountability towards the institute and its stakeholders’.
On October 21, SIU took the decision to send Siddhartha on leave pending inquiry following a recommendation received from an internal complaint committee (ICC), which was set up to look into the complaints made by students. In the last few weeks, SCMC has been in the midst of a storm as allegations of sexual harassment faced by students of the campus from classmates, faculty and even during internships have come out on social media.
However, on Friday, another petition was sent to SIU’s Principal Director Dr Vidya Yeravdekar by 192 current and former students and 39 parents, who extended their support to Siddhartha. They said ‘the petition filed on October 19 by a few set of SCMC students projected an incomplete narrative and failed to present an objective view of the entire scenario’.
The petition said while the students did not condone inaction against sexual offenders, they stood against the accusations levelled against Siddhartha with regard to creating a toxic environment that allegedly encouraged a culture of harassment.
These students claimed that Siddhartha was approachable and open to dialogue with students, and his guidance equipped them for the professional world. They said Siddhartha had taken immediate corrective action against professors and vendors/affiliates accused of verbal abuse and harassment upon being proven guilty.
Dr Vidya Yeravdekar didn’t respond to repeated calls.