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Students Alleging Professor’s Sexual Harassment Targetted by Denigrating Online Campaign

students alleging professors sexual harassment targetted by denigrating online campaign
students alleging professors sexual harassment targetted by denigrating online campaign

Some of the University of Prishtina medical faculty students, who demanded the dismissal of the mathematics professor on sexual harassment claims, are facing a denigrating campaign on social media, with the surface of several accounts in support of the professor.

Some University of Prishtina  students are facing a smear online campaign as different  social media networks are supporting the mathematics professor, Xhevat Krasniqi, dismissed last week from the University of Prishtina, after a long process that followed a formal complaint by 27 medical faculty students, accusing him of sexual harassment.  The students are being accused  of trying to tarnish the professor’s figure. 

This online campaign against the students became more apparent after activists and students protested on April 22 during the Council of Ethics meeting. The students directly approached Krasniqi and Council of Ethics members on their way out after the meeting. 

One particular video that has been circulating online shows one of the students who faced the professor with her sexual harassment claims. The video shows a few seconds of her lightly smirking during the questioning of the professor by the Council of Ethics. 

“They are trying to portray me in the worst possible way,” she told BIRN, explaining that  “at that moment, my emotions were mixed. I was glad that I took the courage and said those words to his face. I remember that students made comments that  made me laugh”. 

She emphasised that many messages she has received will be sent to the police.

“One message states – wow, you were a good actress,” she claimed, adding that other female students also feel bad because they are being presented as if they have planned to remove the professor to get revenge for their grades. 

“In TikTok, my words have become a trend, the situation has escalated,” the student added further, referring to a moment she calls on the professor to admit that he offered to massage her during consultation hours. 

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In addition to the lynching of these students, many social media accounts  have supported the professor , portraying him as a person who is being targeted.

On April 23,  university’s rector Qerim Qerimi, suspended  Krasniqi until investigative actions by the prosecution are completed.

The suspension happened two months after filing the complaint and several meetings of the university’s  Council of Ethics which often ended with police interventions because of students’ protests,  Kreshnik Gashi, managing editor at Kallxo.com, told Kallxo Përnime TV Programme  that the Council of Ethics’.

The recommendation for Krasniqi’s temporary suspension “ is a lack of professional courage to handle the case, waiting for another institution to serve it on a plate,” he said. 

According to him, students are under “psychological terror” from the enormous videos on social media of the students confronting Krasniqi, after his questioning by the council on April 22.

“The Police will knock on their door (those who used hate speech on social media against the students), especially those who have made statuses with public profiles and spread such videos,” Gashi said. .

The dean of the Faculty of Education, Blerim Saqipi, claimed that “in case the decision of the investigation authorities takes a longer period, beyond six months” the university will have to make a decision on the continuation of the suspension. 

“The Rector’s decision suspends professor Krasniqi for a period of six months with 50% of the salary,” Saqipi explained, adding that based on this decision the Council of Ethics will  “refer the professor’s case to the investigative authorities (prosecution),” however, it also notes that the professor will be suspended until a decision by the prosecution. 

Blenda Asllani, an activist from the Feminist Student Movement, considers the university’s decision regarding the professor illegal, explaining that according to the university’s regulations on disciplinary action against academic staff, the Council of Ethics should question an accused professor within five working days from the submission of the complaint. A decision should be made within 30 days.”

“They were invited three weeks later, when the protests had started and when the case had already come out in the media”, she stated.

According to Asllani, the Council of  Ethics Council also violated the University of Prishtina’s statute, which obliges the  guarantee of equal opportunities, regardless of social categories.

“They invited Krasniqi twice and gave him the opportunity to speak for more than one  hour. The students were invited for 10 minutes and only asked if they agreed with what they wrote. When one of the girls wanted to talk about her emotional state during the harassment, the members of the Council of Ethics told her that ‘she didn’t need to talk about her emotional state’,” Asllani said.

Former Ombudsperson, Hilmi Jashari, has also assessed that the sexual harassment case was not handled properly legally and has caused consequences.

 “The Prosecutor’s Office should have dealt with this case very quickly, with proper urgency due to the concern it has caused in the public opinion”, he told  Kallxo Përnime TV programme.

 Jonuz Salihaj, education expert, also believes that “the decision has taken too long. Their collegiality seems to be paramount, to protect their colleague”. 

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