28 June, 2022


Colombo University: Student-On-Student Violence Continues

University Teachers have expressed their concern over an increase in student-on-student violence in the University of Colombo.

Issuing a stament last night the Arts Faculty Teachers’ Association of the University of Colombo said; “We expect all university students to treat their fellow students as fellow human beings who have the right to be treated with dignity and respect.”

We publish below the statement in full;

university-of-colomboThe Arts Faculty Teachers’ Association, Colombo University (AFTA-CU), is seriously concerned about student-on-student violence in the Faculty of Arts. This statement communicates the AFTA-CU positions on this issue, as was unanimously decided at a Special General Meeting held on 10 February 2015.

We are concerned about the rising incidence of intolerance amongst students at the Faculty of Arts. One such incident resulted in the assault by male students of a first-year female student for non-compliance. A more recent incident was the assault of a first-year male student. While some may interpret such incidents as limited to the rag, we believe that the issue is intolerance, and that it should not be approached as merely (and specifically) a violent part of induction into university life. We perceive that there is a culture of intolerance which triggers violence amongst students in the Faculty. The possibility to dissent, which is central in humanities education, is not always assured as a matter of course, as it should be. Ideally, university education should foster in students the ability to hold different opinions and entertain differences in opinion, dress and outlook as a part of learning and appreciating complexity. This is not only a learning goal: it is also an attitudinal development that university life aims to inculcate. It is an indispensable part of the ethos of higher education, which student life is meant to mirror; in fact, it should be kept alive by students and faculty.

By a culture of intolerance, we also mean attempts to deny fundamental freedoms and negate diversity amongst the student population. Gender, ethnicity, class, caste and so on intersect, and are present in a multiplicity of ways amongst a diverse student body. This, needs to be understood, actively appreciated, and acknowledged sensitively. It should not be controlled.

Any attempt to project a homogeneous, singular and ‘right’ way of behaving for all, at the cost of the expression of difference, constitutes violence, intolerance, discrimination and breach of freedoms guaranteed by the Sri Lanka Constitution. Ironically, these are the very freedoms that students demand from the administration and have come to expect as their right at university.

At this crucial juncture in the country, the hope of the majority of citizens is for an open minded society where bigotry does not exist, where difference is not stereotyped and demonized, and people begin the difficult work of finding out how to value one another outside those distortions. Institutions of higher education are no more the final arbiters of these matters than any other, but they do participate in the collective responsibility to realize these goals. It is in this context that we call for an end to the culture of intolerance in the Faculty of Arts, as manifest in student-on-student violence. We urge the importance of not postponing any longer the challenge of relating to one another in new ways, without recourse to violence and intolerance.

We expect all university students to treat their fellow students as fellow human beings who have the right to be treated with dignity and respect.

Arts Faculty Teachers’ Association, Colombo University
Prof. Ananda Tissakumara
Mr. Krishantha Fedricks

Ms. Sewwandi Alawaththa

Vice President:
Mr. Mahesh Senanayake

Assistant Secretary:
Ms. Thanuja Weerakoon

Executive Committee:
Rev. Uduhawara Ananda thero
Dr. Nirmal Devasiri
Dr. Prasad Serasinghe
Mr. R.M. Dissanayake

*Arts Faculty Teachers’ Association – Colombo University (AFTA-CU) – Statement against continuing violence perpetrated by students and repression of democratic freedoms within the Faculty of Arts

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Latest comments

  • 5

    The practice of the so called Ragging is primitive, barbaric and uncivilized- period. One may justify and partake in these abusive rituals giving any number of reasons but it is a crime and is uncivilized behaviour.

    Our country unfortunately is steeped in abuse of other persons. Beating of recruits by trainers in the army, parents beating children, husbands beating wives, sportsmen beating referees – which by the way are in the lower end of inflicting pain going to the higher end, where polilce and CID ruitinely torture suspects (sometimes to death) are all practiced in the this thrice blessed Buddhist nation of ours. Then we have the killings of Tamils, of JVP suspects, the white van killings and the list goes on. Even the Buddhist monks are inciting corporal violence against innocent men women and children sometines directly taking part in assault and battery. So much so I for one have no qualms in stating that our thrice blessed Bhuddist nation is one of the most primitive, most barbaric and most uncivilised countries in the world.

  • 3

    As long as university lecturers hide such incidents from media this cannot be stopped. It is high time such students are exposed in the media along with their names and photograph for entire country to know.Only then this will stop for fear of exposure.

  • 1

    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2/

  • 1

    Uni Students don’t value the free UNI education given to them.

    Cannot understand that someone else is paying for their studies.

    Unlikely to stop this nonsense under the present education system.

  • 1

    I do agree that the incidence/incidents of violence, whether political or not, are largely related to ‘attitudes or traits of intolerance.’ These traits are formed well before students enter university and therefore ‘reform or correction’ in fact should start at school, whether they are naturally built or not in society or family.

    One way of doing this in schools is the selection of suitable reading material. For example, it is widely accepted that a novel like, Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” has made a positive impact on school students on tolerance in English speaking countries and it is translated into many languages. It is a senior school reading book in many countries. FUTA could make some efforts to look into this matter and involve in introducing school material and units on tolerance and non-violent dispute resolution.

    At the same time FUTA could utilize not only the campus ‘orientation programs’ for new students but also introduce some ‘reorientation programs’ for senior students to deal with tolerance and non-violence in resolving disputes. In the two incidents reported, I also suspect that some form sexism also must have been involved. In that case or even otherwise, gender harmony and/or education is also necessary. Of course the wrongdoers or the perpetrators should be punished.

    • 0

      “…Of course the wrongdoers or the perpetrators should be punished. “”

      Name and shame those who resort to what amounts to downright uncivil behaviour. Such actions would not go unpunished in a court of law. What are waiting for? Many an employer has said they would think twice before employing someone from these campuses/universities. Who would blame them?

      • 1

        I would love to see what FUTA can come up with by way of a re orientation program for ALL university students.

  • 1

    Male students assaulting female students is a sign of barbarism which has crept into their psyche, conditioned by the barbarism prevalent in Lankan society today.
    Such students do not deserve any education, but do need psychoanalysis and rehabilitation.
    They need to be identified and punished – if not, the situation will only become worse.

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