As Sikhs, we are raised with the belief in speaking to power and standing up for what is right even when it is overwhelmingly hard to. Part of that responsibility is being able to have difficult conversations when it comes to ugly realities that infiltrate Sikh institutions and spaces, having conversations about them, and dealing with them head-on to purge them.
Gurinder Mann is a “retired” college Professor from UC Santa Barbara. As Professor he taught children and college students. He now has moved to the East Coast and heads the GISS, or the so-called ‘Global Institute of Sikh Studies.’ Universities found that he is a sexual abuser of students and abused students as College Professor.
We understand that such allegations can be dangerous if not proven, but Gurinder Mann being involved in sexual abuse is open-knowledge and accessible. We will be quoting solely from the University news article:
“A 2013 university investigation substantiated sexual harassment claims against Gurinder Singh Mann brought by a female student who accused him of inviting her to his home to discuss research, then urging her to lie beside him in bed and putting a hand up her shirt.
According to the investigation, other students stepped forward to say the Sikh Studies scholar had tried to kiss them, slapped their rears, invited them to his home and couched his behavior in cultural terms as an enlightened guru caring for his disciples.
Mann told investigators the sexual harassment allegations were an “utter falsehood” that stemmed from cultural misunderstandings. He said he was simply showing affection toward promising students. “I have made peace with myself that we live in complicated times, and I am a simple person who tried to help whoever came my way,” Mann told the AP. The school website lists him as retired. “
Many have justified this with “well he retired so it is fine” – we would like to point out that what the University standards designates as legal punishment for a crime is not the sole standard by which the Sikh panth and sangat should treat it. The Sikhi we believe in is one that stands for unapologetic justice and absolutely no space for sexual violence.
Gurinder Mann still heads the group he founded called ‘GISS’ or Global Institute of Sikh Studies, and is attempting to setup Study Chairs for his students and himself. One of these is included in Rutgers University, in New Jersey.
We hope that the Sikh Sangat, and particularly those involved in Academia and funding can start internal discussion on removing Gurinder mann from positions of authority in the groups he heads. We also hope academic institutions take the same steps.