Delhi university teachers claim harassment during web 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. 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 Zoom last week when a person logged in and started writing obscene messages on the chat. “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 and found that there is no student by that name in our class,” he said.
Another faculty member, who teachers at an all-women college in west Delhi, also reported similar misbehaviour. “Some outsiders are logging in to our classes using the links we send to our students on college WhatsApp groups. We are trying to find a way to address this issue,” the teacher said.
DU executive council (EC) member Rajesh Jha said, “Several women teachers have 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. Many countries are facing similar issues in conducting online classes.”
As per foreign media reports, Singapore banned some video conferencing applications used for teaching after hackers posted obscene images during classes.
DU Teacher Association secretary Rajinder Singh said they have also received complaints from teachers. “Teachers have started removing the person who writes or shares any unnecessary messages from the class,” he said.
A senior university official said they are looking into the matter. “We are aware of these incidents and are trying to fix it. We may file a police complaint,” a DU official said.
Experts said 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 while using software tools for any purpose. 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 train teachers on how to handle such situations during a sessions.”