Chennai, 11th May 2020: Institut Le Rosey, commonly referred to as Le Rosey or simply Rosey and one of the oldest boarding schools in Switzerland is embroiled in a disgraceful situation because of its failure and the serious lack of sensitivity to deal with bullying towards an Indian student. The title of the most expensive private school in the world goes to Institut Le Rosey, with an annual tuition of $115,000 (basic fees plus costs) per year. However, the recent incident of a student from a renowned family from India being subjected to harrowing mental and emotional harassment, at the behest of her fellow students and painfully negligent faculty, puts a serious dent on the image and credibility of such schools that are already charging an exorbitant fee. Serious allegations have been raised that the elitist school failed to protect their daughter from bullying which ultimately led to serious cyber harassment and attacks towards the young teen.
The case is an eye opener for all parents that work hard their entire life to send their children to such seemingly prestigious schools and begs the question ‘Is the name tag ultimately worth it?” As Indian origin parents Radhika & Pankaj Oswal realized! As responsible parents they too had many dreams for their daughter and thought that sending their daughter to an institution like Le Rosey would provide her with not just a world-class education but also the best pastoral care. But they say that “It has become clear, however, that the standards of the school have dropped in recent years, and it is now fast becoming just a playground for rich students to do as they please.”
Commenting on the incident, Radhika Oswal, parent of aggrieved student said “We are disappointed and appalled at the treatment that has been given to our daughter by an institute, and the faculty that has failed miserably to uphold its own code of conduct. The values that the institute ostensibly imparts pertaining to ‘respect’ and ‘physical integrity’ as well as for the ‘religious, philosophical and political convictions’ of students, have been made a mockery of, and are at this point nothing but marketing whitewash!.”
Following a serious set of bullying incidents against their child, the parents raised their concerns to the school and asked for action to be taken to ensure their child’s safety. The school’s senior management however showed no willingness to act or even acknowledge that there was an issue. The bullying meanwhile escalated into systematic harassment and cyber bullying. The student was mocked on social media groups with other students witnessing. Instead of addressing the bullying or trying to come to a reasonable conclusion, Le Rosey cancelled the bullied student’s re-enrolment for the following academic year, without any explanation. The parents say that there is also clear evidence of other Indian children being harassed because of their background, culture and choice to be vegetarian.
Radhika Oswal further added “It is unfortunate that we have heard of other Indian students being taunted for their ethnicity, shockingly even by a member of the faculty. It is sadder that many Indian parents continue the education of their children in this school, despite their children being told disrespectful and racist remarks such as that India is the dustbin of Asia, and that Indian parents look like sweepers. It is shocking when children are taunted and made fun of multiple times on their decision to be vegetarian, their culture and their religious beliefs, but even sadder when parents do not take action”.
Other issues relating to Le Rosey’s Code of Conduct have also been raised. Le Rosey’s fifth ‘Major Rule’ is that ‘possession or consumption of alcoholic drinks on or off-campus throughout the week’ is a ‘major offence’. The code of conduct also deems smoking and ‘leaving a building without authorization’ at night as major offences.
Contrary to this, underage drinking and smoking is reportedly prevalent in the school. First-hand accounts also suggest that unruly students can frequently be seen at clubs outside and bars around Le Rosey during term time, spending lavishly on expensive drinks.
The parents have under righteous obligation, tried to raise their daughter’s concern in front of the school’s management, but apparently in vain, as if a matter of concern of the child’s safety within the school were inconsequential. On the contrary, Le Rosey and its faculty painstakingly were involved in the character assassination of their young daughter by lowering her evaluation grades since she was one of the highest achievers of her class, supporting the students who attacked her mentally, even cancelling her contention for a re-enrollment to the next school year and subjecting her to unimaginable mental torture, in an ultimate bid to try to subjugate her into silence.
Following a failure to reach an agreement in a conciliation hearing, the parents say they had little choice but to take Le Rosey to court. The parents want a public apology for their daughter and a promise that the school will now start to live up to its own – supposedly high – standards. They are concerned that other students at the school may also be victims and be suffering in silence.
Adding to this, Pankaj Oswal said “We are saddened that it has come to this but as parents are duty-bound to act. Le Rosey has failed in their responsibility towards the welfare of a child. It is entirely unacceptable. The school has prioritized having a yacht on Lake Geneva and multiple extravagant events over ensuring the basic levels of care are met. As parents we are in a state of shock and it hurts to know what our brave daughter has had to stand upto at a young age. And just like all parents, we don’t want her to be a victim, but a champion of a cause that has once caused her so much pain, so that it may not do the same to others. To us, she will always be a hero who stood as bravely as she could in the face of her greatest adversity and decided not to be silenced by her oppressors. We hope that this moment makes Le Rosey reflect on what a world-class education really looks like and take action to ensure that this doesn’t happen to any more students.” The parents have taken the moral onus of fighting for their child’s future and justice for many such future Indian students as their daughter, to uphold justice and parity. With faith in the Swiss legal system and an expectation that truth and justice shall eventually prevail, Radhika & Pankaj Oswal have decided to be the harbingers of change, standing up against bullying and abuse. This is not about money, but principle. They have pledged any financial award to be entirely donated towards charitable causes.