Rabindra University teacher Farhana retains job despite 'forced haircut' scandal

Rabindra University has suspended Farhana Yeasmin Baten, an associate professor of the Cultural Heritage and Bangladesh Studies Department, from the academic activity for three academic years as a ‘punishment’ for forcibly cutting the hair of students.

University students have been demanding the removal or resignation of Farhana and have continued to stage protests, but authorities have not responded to their demands.

An office order on the final decision was posted on the notice board on Sunday.

Farhana has been ordered to refrain from all academic activity, including teaching and taking exams, until the end of all academic activity for students from the 2017-18, 2018-19 and 2019-20 in the Cultural Heritage and Bangladesh Studies Department, the notice said.

On Sep 26, students alleged that Farhana had forcibly cut the hair of several first-year students.

She left her position as the chairperson of the university’s Cultural Heritage and Bangladesh Studies Department, assistant proctor and a member of the proctorial board in the face of student protests. The university administration suspended her temporarily and formed a panel to probe the incident.

The probe panel submitted its report saying it had ‘proof’ the allegations against Farhana to be true. The students also continue their protests demanding she receive a permanent suspension.

On Oct 24, a student protester ‘consumed poison’ in a bid to kill himself, further igniting protests.

Two days later the students halted their protests after ‘assurances’ from university authorities regarding the removal of Farhana Baten from her post.

Meanwhile, a delegation from the University Grants Commission went to the university on Oct 27 to investigate the incident.

They spoke to the students, the alleged teacher and officials and also to the probe committee formed by the university.

The final decision on Farhana’s suspension came a month later.