IBA in hot waters after defending student expulsion

A fourth-year student has been expelled for posting about alleged campus harassment case on Facebook

Tensions are nigh for the Institute of Business Administration (IBA) after they released a statement to defend their decision to expel fourth-year student Muhammad Jibrael, following the latter’s claim that he had witnessed a female staff member being harassed by her male colleague.

The institution posted a lengthy explanation and said that it expelled Jibrael because he violated standard procedures in reporting the alleged harassment. The statement said there were several internal committees to address harassment complaints, but Jibrael went public about the incident, which was an unacceptable affront to IBA’s social standing.

The university furthered that student guidelines demanded a certain conduct on social media and Jibrael defied those instructions. IBA also said that they ‘counselled’ Jibrael several times to reconsider his approach to the incident, but he stood by his actions, which prompted the university’s Disciplinary Committee to expel him from the university.

The statement did not sit well with several people. Journalist Alia Chughtai said that IBA was infamous for ‘silencing’ those who spoke up against harassment and so enabled sexual harassment itself. She wondered how an institute that produced the crème of Pakistan’s finance world could allow such a thing to happen.

Artist Leena Ghani echoed Chughtai’s words and said that IBA was known for its bullying tactics against staff and students who spoke up against harassment. Support for harassers was ingrained in policies like the code of conduct, she added.

Political anthropologist Arsalan Khan critiqued the ‘disappointing’ statement and said that IBA’s reputation was not risked in any way, but the damage was done to susceptible members like students at the institute. Khan opined that the reputation could be fixed if IBA redressed aggrieved members of its community instead.

Activist Usama Khilji also added to the notion of ‘reputation’ in the whole scenario. He said that the explanation was ‘absolutely shameful’ and only aggravated IBA’s reputation. Khilji added that IBA’s decision wreaked of colonial bureaucratic procedures, which dealt with discord without transparency and behind closed doors.

Several others chimed into berate the institution. Digital rights advocate Hija Kamran said that IBA was only making campus unsafe for women who reported sexual harassment. Kamran added that ‘so-called’ disciplinary actions were only facilitating abusers on campus. Writer Mina Malik Hassan meanwhile said that academic institutions should provide safety to their students instead of turning the space into a ‘correctional facility’.