Millennium Post
Delhi

From porn during class to third party invigilators stalking students

From porn during class to third party invigilators stalking students
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New Delhi: After reports of students facing harassment from third-party proctors in their online university exam at a large private university surfaced on Tuesday, more college students in the Delhi-NCR region have come forward with stories of abuse, sexual harassment, and stalking all while taking online exams or classes.

A final year Hotel Management student told Millennium Post that right in the middle of an online lecture an unknown guy joined the class and started playing pornographic videos. "This happened right in the morning, at 09:30 am."

To make matters worse, this happened not once but twice, on another day during the same professor's class, the student said. When asked what the professor or university did to address the issue, the student said the professor removed the man and continued teaching normally, "pretending that nothing had happened".

"He should have said something. He did not take any action, as if nothing had happened. Probably that's what gave him (the perpetrator) the courage to do it twice," the student said, wishing to remain anonymous.

Students said that they discussed the issue among themselves and had no idea how the perpetrator got the link for their online class. They also said that such an issue never happened when the class was conducted by female faculty members/professors.

Another final year management student at a private university said that students in her class had received inappropriate private messages, DMs (Direct Messages), comments and follow requests on social media platforms from men whom they did not know but who knew private details about their lives.

This university used a third-party online testing/proctoring service to conduct all their remote exams. As such, these proctors, who were completely unknown to the students they were invigilating, had access to their email IDs, phone numbers, formal names, and could even demand that students keep their webcams/cameras on or pointed at certain directions at all times.

Raising complaints with teaching faculty did not help because even they did not have any control over who the proctor was or how much access/information they were granted, the students said.

"While most of us were randomly asked to switch on our cameras or change the camera position to ensure we weren't cheating and later allowed to switch the camera on and focus on the exam, some girls faced harassment. Once the exam was over, they received Instagram DMs and Whatsapp messages from men asking them how their exam went, right down to the name of the paper. On asking for the senders' identity they were told that he was their proctor but no name was given except for an obviously fake account handle. Those who had public or semi-public social media profiles were also stalked online," one student said.

These are not one-off incidents, but the imbalance of power and authority, where the perpetrator holds the victim's academic marks and performance in their fist, is such that only final year students who were set to graduate were open to disclosing details. Unfortunately, the harassment does not end when these women graduate.

A recent private university engineering graduate who now works at a major IT firm received a message from HR/administration, notifying that many female employees were complaining of harassment from unknown Skype contacts and hence not accept any suspicious account into their contacts.

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