The Students’ Herald
The Students’ Herald received a number of anonymous submissions exposing the harassment and abuse female students were facing on their campuses. These students wished to remain anonymous and were also afraid of sharing identities of the teachers who had harassed them. However, they wanted to share with our readers their experiences. TSH has compiled their stories and reproduced them in the following lines.
Student A – Bullying and Harassment at FAST-NU
I have been thinking about writing something like this for a long time but I always gave up because of the constant fear of putting my future at risk. I thought my speaking up will be of no use as our university has constantly failed to do what is right on multiple occasions.
But this is it! I cannot stay silent any longer. How is it fair that teachers are allowed to bully and make fun of students openly in classes? When the same students post jokes about their teachers in private groups, they are punished. Shouldn’t these teachers take these jokes “lightly”? Tell me how is it fair that our administration always turns a blind eye towards teachers or other people harassing students on campus but suddenly decide to do the “right thing” when students assert themselves?
Let us start with Professor X. I am sure everyone knows how he makes girls uncomfortable by passing inappropriate comments and asking them to come visit him after office hours if they need something done. We also know how he rudely refuses to cater to male students, but eager to help female students. He also openly asks for bribes from students to solve their issues without any shame. He also tortures students by making them stand in lines all day long. Many times he will simply sit locked up in his office refusing to meet anyone. So far, not many people have officially reported him because but the whole administration is well aware of his actions.
Let us now come to Professor A, another teacher at my university. This person has one of the most powerful positions at FAST. But every time a student approaches him with a grave issue such as harassment or bullying, he shoves it under the rug and asks you to forget about it in the most dismissive tone ever. I am saying this from personal experience: this man has zero regard for students and their problems. He is the guy who sends friend requests to all students and then posts offensive and degrading remarks against women because of which many girls have unfriended him.
Professor B of FAST Lahore also acts in a similar way when any issue is taken to him. In fact, there is a huge probability that you will get insulted yourself for bothering him, that is if he agrees to see you in the first place.
There are many teachers whose offices are considered unsafe for female students because of their constant staring, inappropriate comments and keeping them there longer than they should. Examples of such teachers include Professor C and Professor D from FAST School of Management.
Let us now talk about a CS faculty member. Even though he doesn’t harass students, he openly bullies and makes fun of them during class merely because he thinks they’re fat or have a weird accent. He also has a habit of making sexist jokes in class regarding girls wearing makeup. He also posts really frank and sarcastic comments on Facebook posts by students. There are other teachers like him who insult students very often. All this is supposed to be okay but no student should DARE to make a joke about them, otherwise they will get expelled.
The university administration prefers to overlook all this but when students make fun of their teachers in a harmless way, administrators think they have the right to take the most severe actions against them. It is sick that these people are ready to sabotage the future of their own students only to soothe their bloated egos. It is time we all stand against such oppression.
Student B – Misogyny at FAST
I was a student of Professor X at FAST. This man hates women. His hatred shows in the way he talks about and talks to females. Our section had around 30 boys and 10 girls, which is the case for almost every class in FAST. This has never been an issue and girls are always made to feel welcome in their class by our teachers and our class fellows. But what I experienced in Professor X’s class shook me to my core.
He always sees girls as women, and not as students. Once, a girl was smiling in his class and he went off on her. He shouted at her and humiliated her in front of the entire class and told her if she ever smiled in his class again, she would be kicked out of the section for the entire semester.
A few days later, a boy was smiling in his class and he stopped the lecture to playfully ask him what he was thinking about and if it was a joke, to please share it with the class because breaks are necessary in order make learning more enjoyable. Talk about double standards!
On multiple occasions, he would take a hard question and start asking it from every girl in the class, one by one. Each girl would say she didn’t know the answer, or try to explain what she thought was the correct answer and sir would just move on to the next girl. When all the girls had failed to answer, he would ask all of the girls collectively, in a very taunting tone “ap log yahan chaye pinay aye hain? Aur kuch mangwaun ap logon kay liay?” (Have you guys come here to have tea? Should I order something more for you guys?). He was all buddy-buddy with the boys of the class, and I rarely every saw him scolding them in the same derogatory manner he did the girls. With girls, he would become rude instantly and either start shouting or refuse to listen.
These are just the incidents that happened in front of me. There are so many more that other girls have narrated to me as well. I came to the conclusion that he’s a misogynist who thinks girls are useless and good for nothing. Whenever I was in his in class, I never felt like I belonged there, or that it was my right to be there. I always had my head down, and tried my best not to provoke him in any way. It was my worst experience as a student in my whole life.
I know after reading this, some people might be thinking something along the lines of “as soon as these girls don’t get the attention they want from teachers, they start throwing allegations of misogyny,” but these people should try to empathise. Most girls do not want to be seen as “girls” in a classroom. They want to be seen as students, and treated with the same respect as their male peers.
Teachers like Professor X should not be allowed to teach at co-education institutions.
Student C – Professor X is creepy!
In Fall 2017, I took Professor X’s class. One day, he put his hand on mine, and stepped on my dupatta when I called him for help with my code errors. I complained to another teacher, but no one took any action. In Fall 2019, Professor X was again appointed as my instructor. Throughout the course, he used to sit at my lab desk with his cup of tea and kept staring at me.
Student D – Professor X was obsessed with my dupatta
I did not attend my own graduation and that was a conscious decision. The day I stepped into the university, I felt alienated. It was dominated by men, highly toxic and very conservative with people having no sense of personal boundaries.
In the second semester, halfway through my first lecture, this professor (also the director of the campus at that time) pointed me out saying, “You lady! Cover your head.” I turned to the girl sitting next to me in confusion because she had been attending his lectures for a week and a half without covering her head. Then he said, “Yes, both of you.” Shocked and embarrassed, I covered my head with my dupatta and started doing so from then onwards, to avoid getting into any trouble with him. After a couple of weeks, the dupatta slipped off my head in the class and he immediately pointed me out saying, “Hey you lady! Cover your head!” I could not take the humiliation, silence and stares anymore. I replied back: “excuse me, it is my personal matter.” The chauvinist and sexist teacher least expected to hear that. So he said, “If there is a woman with her head uncovered in a gathering, the accompanying men are disgusted.” He also threatened me by saying that I could stay in his class only if I kept my head covered. Again, everybody stayed quiet and he knew he would win because if I skipped lectures, I would not be unable to sit in the exams (as per the rule). So, I ended up repeating the dupatta ritual regularly, no matter how insulted I felt. I stayed calm no matter how angry I felt, not just towards him but every single person in that room that was a mere spectator.
The very same day, I reported the incident to the dean and rector through email. I never got a response and later found out that they probably had simply forwarded my email to him to let him know that I had approached them. I spent four semesters back to back in that constant phase of anger and humiliation. Every time before entering his class, I would fix my dupatta on my head and the passersby would mock me by saying “It must be Baba’s (that’s how he was known) class.” It wasn’t limited to this unreasonable rule: he also deliberately excluded me from the mailing list of his class so I would never get any notifications, assignments or lecture material. I did not consider him my teacher or a respectable person and never wanted to talk to him or make a request though he tried his best to agitate me. I also stayed in fear for my grades. In the last course that he was teaching me, he deducted 15 marks for no reason. I went to him for the first time to ask for an explanation and he mocked and dismissed me as if I were unworthy of the grades I deserved. Eventually he had to give me 10 more after my parents intervened and another teacher talked to him. Even so, he had this crooked smile because he knew I deserved more than that.
He also once bragged about his accomplishment (of imposing that condition on me), in front of a visiting parent of a classmate. I hated that university more than any other place for its extremely poor and toxic environment, highly unprofessional and academically dishonest faculty and unsympathetic students but I was trapped there and had no way out till graduation. I feel absolutely ashamed of ever being part of an institution that objectified me. I can’t forget the years of suffocation I spent worrying about the damned dupatta slipping down my head, instead of focusing on my studies. Every single person who saw and never stood by me is also a hypocrite.
I hope that eventually the system would evolve in a way that it would stop suppressing students and stop challenging their personal values. For me, my dupatta would never be a matter of concern of anyone else again; whether I keep it or not, the choice is and will always be mine.
Student E – Misogyny and slut shaming
Female teachers can also be misogynists. I once took a course from one such teacher. We were a few girls in class and almost all the girls wore shalwar kameez and covered their heads. On the other hand, a few other girls and I wore jeans and tops. Generally she had this hateful behaviour with all the girls but she had a special kind of condescending behaviour with the girls who wore western clothes. Once this girl came in our class wearing tights and a top and the teacher literally scanned her from head to toe, giving her looks full of disgust over the way she had dressed and treated her rudely afterwards. Another time, this other girl asked a question related to some topic and got humiliated in front of the whole class. Ma’am literally came at her and got too personal with her, pinpointing her entire personality and commenting on how she gets ready and if she had been “simple” like the rest of the girls, ma’am would still answer her questions and that dressing up won’t make her special enough to grab her attention more. I saw that girl’s self-esteem in shambles that day. She didn’t dare retaliate, because if she had, the teacher would have kept a constant grudge over it and maybe ended up messing h her grade. On the other hand, when some guy asked a question or said anything, the teacher would be too sweet with them and answer them chirpily.
This is a huge case of slut shaming which I saw happening in front of my own eyes. The thing that I don’t get is: what does a person’s dressing have to do with their study? Does wearing a jeans makes a girl a “bad person” altogether? Or wearing jeans makes a girl characterless? Everyone has the open liberty to dress up whatever way they like. A teacher has no right to humiliate someone just on the basis of what the student is wearing.
Student F- Vengeful teacher
I was a student of Professor X and once I asked him to step aside so I could copy things off the board. Since then he developed some grudge against me and I came on his hit list.
He used to insult me during lectures, asking questions outside what he taught in class and said, “You have to answer it.” Whenever class started, he used to come and stand near my table and confused me with questions outside the course. He used to only change my seat during quizzes while the rest of the class sat on their particular seats. During online lectures, he used to bombard with questions that were not part of the syllabus and forced me to answer them and when I did not answer him he would insult me saying “you should know it.” Whenever I asked a valid question, he would say “I can answer it, but will not.” This tortured me mentally as I felt so low because of repeated insults in every lecture. I couldn’t resist so I stopped taking classes and got 0 marks in my project presentations.