Why I signed the letter to ACJ asking for action on the complaint against Sadanand Menon

24 May 2018
Bharat Tiwari
Bharat Tiwari

This essay is part of a series by The Caravan, regarding allegations of sexual harassment against the culture critic Sadanand Menon, who is a member of the adjunct faculty at the Asian College of Journalism in Chennai. The other pieces in the series include a statement by Menon, and two interviews—with ACJ’s chairperson Sashi Kumar, and with two other signatories to the public letter asking ACJ to institute a probe into the allegations.

On 8 May, several activists, writers, journalists and other members of civil society wrote a public letterto the Asian College of Journalism (ACJ) in Chennai, urging it to conduct a fair and serious probe into an allegation of sexual harassment against the culture critic Sadanand Menon, a member of its adjunct faculty. We put together this appeal after the college’s Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) refused to entertain a complaint filed in January 2018, by a former student of the institute. The former student—who also described her ordeal in a piece published on the website the News Minute—alleged that Menon had sexually harassed her at SPACES, a cultural venue Chennai of which he is a trustee.

The complaints committee cited procedural grounds to justify its inability to act on the complaint—that the alleged incident had not taken place at ACJ, and that it is said to have occurred after the student had graduated from the institute. Meanwhile, students from the current year at ACJ also wrote to the complaints committee, demanding that, in light of a troubling “whisper network” of accounts of alleged harassment by Menon, the committee take action against him. However, the ICC continued to cite procedural constraints, and in effect, reaffirmed its inability to act.

Keywords: sexual harassment Asian College of Journalism ACJ Sadanand Menon Sexual harassment allegations against Sadanand Menon