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IBA alumni demand student’s reinstatement


Scores of current and former students protested on Monday urging the Institute of Business Administration to revoke Muhammad Gibrail’s expulsion ahead of the varsity’s decision expected today (Tuesday).
Last week, the varsity expelled Gibrail after internal disciplinary proceedings against him for publicly highlighting an alleged harassment incident he witnessed at the varsity and supporting the female survivor in lodging a formal complaint with the institution’s management.
IBA was widely criticised for its move and a decision is to be reached today on whether Gibrail will be allowed to continue his studies at the varsity.
Apart from vocalised support from current students, more than 650 IBA alumni have urged the varsity against Gibrail’s expulsion.
In a joint letter written to the IBA administration, a copy of which is available with The Express Tribune, the signatories stated, “We, the alumni and students of IBA, are extremely disgusted, disappointed, and outraged at the way the IBA has dealt with a recent case of harassment and its treatment of a student who acted as a whistleblower as any morally upright and ethically compliant citizen would given the circumstances.”
Gibrail had reported on social media the alleged harassment of a female employee by an employee of the varsity’s finance department on August 25. In a Facebook post, he shared the details of the incident as a witness. According to the IBA, the student later refused to take down his social media post and disciplinary proceedings were initiated against him.
The varsity stood by its decision to expel Gibrail, citing its disciplinary code and maintained that the student had the right to appeal before numerous committees if he did not agree with the varsity’s rules and procedures.
Meanwhile, a complaint against the finance department employee, who allegedly shouted and threatened a female employee on August 25, is pending before the IBA’s anti-harassment committee.
The case sparked protests by students and the varsity was severely criticised by many netizens, who found IBA’s decision to expel Gibrail unfair and termed it an over-reaction.
Read More: ‘Special courts should deal harassment cases’
The alumni signatories in the letter sent to the varsity’s admin maintained that the IBA’s stance sets a “precedence for silencing whistle-blowers, survivors, and allies, as no one in the future would stand up against such atrocities lest they be treated unfairly and impartially”.
Through “such archaic and stern measures” the varsity is indicating that harassment should not be reported, “thereby favouring harassers in the process,” argued former students. Speaking to The Express Tribune, one alumnus said that the education institution has taken an extreme step against the whistle-blower. “Such persons [as Gibrail] need to be encouraged.
Such harassment cases happen at many places and we need to address them rather than discouraging persons who highlight the incidents,” she added.
“The expulsion or threat of expulsion to a student, who took a stand against all odds and in a fair manner, is highly preposterous and condemnable, particularly when there is a genuine harassment crisis at play across Pakistan,” read the letter.
Another alumnus said that the alumni demand that Gibrail be reinstated as a student at the varsity.
“Action should be taken against the perpetrator of the harassment not the person who reported it,” he said.
Another signatory to the letter said that institutions like the IBA have to educate students on how to report such instances and support them when they do so.
Similarly, lawyer Jibran Nasir, who is Gibrail’s legal advisor, underscored the mental distress the institution had placed students under with its decision to expel Gibrail. “Instead of solving the harassment issue and to provide justice to the victim, the student who reported the incident has been victimised. It’s an unfair step.”
“The intimidating attitude of the IBA disciplinary committee is not unknown to us. Most of us have gone through it and we highly discourage this humiliating intimidation. We are also acutely aware of previous cases of harassment at IBA and how they were dealt with. The IBA doesn’t seem to be the safe place we were primed to expect, especially for women and gender and sexual minorities,” stated the letter.
The alumni stressed that IBA is known to be built on moral and ethical grounds but in the current context, “especially at a time when survivors, especially women, have a platform through social media to report the rampant sexual misconduct that they are otherwise unable to highlight due to the patriarchal systems,” it was being unfair.

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