Harassment allegations surface against college professor

Six official complaints filed with ‘investigation committee’

Jordan News
(File Photo: Jordan News)
AMMAN — Students at a Jordanian university took to social media over the weekend to share a professor’s alleged sexual harassment of students.

Using the hashtag “techno harasser”, referring to the Jordan University of Science and Technology (JUST), students fired off thousands of tweets, many of which included alleged chat logs between students and the professor.اضافة اعلان

One JUST student said that she started the social media campaign to share testimonies, voice recordings, and texts that other students have shared with her.

“I had no idea how big the impact ... would be, nor the number of testimonies and records I have personally received,” she told Jordan News.

Another student, who spoke to Jordan News on condition of anonymity, said she had been the victim of the professor’s harassment in her first year at university.

She said the professor had asked her to go to his office to discuss her exam results. She had to take a bus home, and so did her best to hurry the conversation along but the professor “kept changing the subject”.

“He offered that I go with him to Amman so no one would recognize us,” she said. “I was shocked and did not know what was happening, but knew that it was wrong, especially after he tried to hold my hand.”

“I felt disgusted and ashamed when I left his office,” she said, adding that she had “never spoken of this with anyone”.

In another incident, text messages dated July 2018, obtained by Jordan News, shows a Facebook account that appears to belong to the professor messaging a student, in which he declares his “pure” love for her and repeatedly invites her to join him after school hours and off-campus.

In one exchange the student explicitly told him that his advances made her “uncomfortable”, to no avail.

The student told Jordan News that she was worried that “if I did not reply to his messages, he would fail me.”

“I am also alone (in Jordan) and was afraid that he would do something to harm me.”

The student is one of six who have filed on official complaint with the university.

In an interview with Jordan News, professor Ahmad Alsaad said that he had never faced such complaints throughout his 30 years of teaching. He said that certain students hold grudges after being suspended from his class or after getting caught cheating on an exam.

Alsaad said the chat logs posted on social media were fabricated and that he would be filing a complaint with the Cyber Crime Unit, describing the social media campaign as character assassination.

“They created fake accounts in my name and exposed my number online,” he alleged. “My Facebook account was also hacked.”

The professor said he has received numerous calls from his colleagues in “support”.

“These allegations have affected my family,” he said, adding that he was in the process of hiring a lawyer to press charges against “everyone who tried to destroy my reputation”.

Maram Qaddorah, who studied under the professor in 2012, told Jordan News that she never witnessed any behavior consistent with the accusations and that she had visited his office in the past.

“It was entirely normal at the professor’s office; we discussed my grades and nothing else,” she said.

“The professor is known for his ethics and I have never noticed any suspicious behavior,” Qaddorah said.

In comments to Jordan News, the university’s spokesperson, Ra’d Al-Tal said that the university had formed a committee Saturday, the same day allegations surfaced, and opened an investigation into the claims of harassment.

He stressed that the investigation would be impartial, and that, if the allegations prove to be true, the consequences could range from a “partial suspension to termination,” depending on the evidence.

The spokesperson stressed that the university is taking the issue seriously and that students who come forward will not be singled out.

Jordan News spoke to lawyer and activist Nour Al-Imam, who said that allegations of harassment are difficult to prove and therefore harder to prosecute, but that it should not deter people coming forward and standing up for themselves. 

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