DU teachers complain of harassment, abusive posts during online classes
As online classes in colleges across the Delhi University (DU) begin amid the lockdown, many teachers have complained that some “mischievous elements”, who are not on the rolls, were “misusing” the medium and harassing teachers with obscene messages and posts.
Several teachers in DU colleges said they were abused and harassed by some attendees during the online classes. The teachers said they have informed the university administration about the misbehaviour.
An assistant professor at a South Campus college, requesting anonymity, said he was taking an online class on the Zoom app last week when a person logged in and started writing obscene messages on the chat. “It was so sudden that it took us a few minutes to realise what was happening. It was embarrassing for us all. We had to abruptly suspend the class. We later went through the recorded video of the lecture to identify the person. We found that there is no student by the name in our class,” he said.
Another faculty member, who teachers at an all-women college in west Delhi, said a person logged in to his class with the username of an adult movie actor, and started posting abusive messages against women. “It’s come to our notice that some outsiders are logging in to our classes using the links we send to our students every day on our college WhatsApp groups. We share our screen during the online classes with our students and everyone can use that and post their views and questions. We are trying to find out a way to address this issue,” the teacher said.
DU executive council (EC) member Rajesh Jha said such incidents are being reported by many teachers over the last few days. “Several women teachers have also informed us that they were abused and harassed during these live classes. The teachers send the invites for live sessions on Zoom or Google Meet to their students every day. The students can log in simply by entering their names and email IDs. These incidents clearly indicate that students are sharing these invites with outsiders as well. Many countries are facing similar issues in conducting online classes,” he said.
According to foreign media reports, Singapore banned some video conferencing applications for teaching purpose after hackers posted obscene images during the classes.
DU Teacher Association (DUTA) secretary Rajinder Singh said they have also received some complaints from teachers. “Teachers have now started taking precautions. Some of them have told us that they immediately remove the person from class who writes or shares any unnecessary messages,” he said.
A senior university official said they are looking into the matter. “We are aware of these incidents. We are looking into the matter and trying to fix it. We may file a police complaint in the matter soon,” a DU official said.
Experts said educational institutions need to wisely choose the software tools they use for online classes.
Apar Gupta, executive director at Internet Freedom Foundation, said, “There is always a chance of cybercrime or hacking while using software tools for any purpose. But the educational institutions can minimise that risk by choosing software tools that are more personal rather than using the popular ones. Also, there is a need to give proper training to teachers and instructors on how to handle such situations during a sessions.”
The Internet Freedom Foundation, according to its website, is a digital liberties organisation that seeks to ensure that technology respects fundamental rights and that Indian citizens can use the Internet with liberties guaranteed by the Constitution.