LAHORE: A professor at the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) has mysteriously “disappeared” after students attempted to register complaints of misconduct and sexual harassment against him with the administration.
According to social media posts, an American-Iranian Professor Dr Hayder Al-Mohammad, who was assigned the “Anthropology of Body” course, allegedly sexually harassed his students, both male and female.
One such post by a LUMS student, Mahnoor Nadeem, told her account of the incident.
According to the post, Al-Mohammad – who was “seriously unwell” and “not fit to be around students” – made “extremely inappropriate sexual remarks very regularly”. In one such instance, Mahnoor wrote, he talked about his zipper being open on campus because he wanted to “get air down there”.
The post went on to claim that the professor even made remarks about having coitus in “an SDSB [Suleman Dawood School of Business] discussion room”.
The sexual harassment, she said, was not limited to the classrooms only. “He also targetted several female students outside the classroom on campus as well,” she said, adding that the instructor told one of his female students: “I don’t want to imagine what parts of your body you’ll be rubbing.”
Al-Mohammad’s actions were not restricted to alleged sexual harassment but, according to Mahnoor, he also made “racist and xenophobic comments” at an institution that proudly advocates a “culture of respect” on its campus.
According to the student, when a group of students contacted the university administration to lodge a complaint against the instructor, submitting documentary evidence, they were told to “give him a second chance”. When pressed harder for legal action, the administration informed students that the instructor left the university mid-semester “without informing anyone”.
However, the problems of the affectees did not end there. After the sudden departure of the instructor, classes were not held for a whole week. Substitute professors were provided to the class but, according to students, it brought no relief as they did not have access to students’ grades which constituted 50% of the course work done.
“Our work was completely disregarded and we were told to start from scratch,” Mahnoor Nadeem lamented, adding: “We are not expected to deliver four components within 19 days upon which 100% of our grade will be based.”
The social media users sharing their experience describe it as a “traumatic” experience, criticising the university department responsible for hiring such a person who was so obviously unfit to be around students. Allegedly, the department also demands that the students produce all coursework from scratch in a span of 19 days.
In 2014, when a female student accused law instructor Syed Abid Husain Imam – son of veteran politician Syeda Abida Hussain – of sexual harassment, other faculty members rushed to defend the accused, with the university’s inquiry committee also exonerating Imam of the charge.
However, media scrutiny and the student’s drive led the case to an appeal with the local ombudsman, who declared Imam guilty of sexually harassing the student. The court’s decision forced LUMS administration to fire Imam from his position.