St Joseph’s college in Bengaluru sacked LGBT rights Ashley Tellis, Associate Professor with the college’s Department of English, on Thursday citing his involvement in “anti-college activities” and for hurting the “sensitivities of undergraduate students from heterogeneous backgrounds” in his classes.
According to Ashley he said he was summoned to the principal’s office, while he was conducting classes for second year B Com students. “As soon as I was summoned, I went to the principal’s office. In the office, Principal Father Victor Lobo, told me that the students were disturbed by my ‘personal opinions’,” Ashley said.
“Soon after that he informed me that the management of the Institute had asked him to remove me and I was relieved immediately,” he added.
Mr. Tellis feels that the college management took the decision as he encouraged students to talk about some of the practices of the college during his class and linked this to freedom of expression and democratic rights.
Ashley Tellis, Associate Professor. image courtesy : Mid-Day
The college, denied reports that mentioned that Ashley’s sexual orientation was partly the reason for relieving him. College authorities said that they have always supported the LGBT community.
When contacted, Father Victor Lobo, said that the allegations made by Ashley are baseless. He said the termination has nothing to do with his sexual orientation.
The college has denied practicing any gender segregation in the college inside or outside the class. They say that they do not impose a dress code but tell students that they should be dressed “decently” for an academic setting.
“This faculty member was not following the rules of the contract and was not teaching what he was supposed to. Students, who were disturbed by it, complained to us in batches. After consulting our legal adviser, we decided to remove him,” he added
Senior members of the staff claimed that they had received as many as 10 written complaints from students and also calls from distressed parents about Ashley’s opinions and utterances in his classes.
A student of the English department said that there had not been any clarification from the college about why Ashley had been sacked. “We don’t really know why. But we used to look forward to his classes,” she said.
The student also expressed surprise at the college management’s claim that they had received many letters against Ashley. “No one in my class had any complaints,” she said.
Both the college management and Mr. Tellis said that they would pursue the matter legally.