21 May, 2019

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Jaffna University Sexual Harassment: AL Students Demand UGC Inquiry

By Ruba Ratnasingam

As has been reported in Colombo Telegraph Dr. S. Dharshanan, Head of the Department of Music and a close relative of Jaffna VC Vasanthi Arasaratnam, was suspended from service without pay following numerous accusations of sexual harassment by his students and staff colleagues at the Ramanathan Academy of Fine Arts (RAFA). These accusations had been there from 2011 but the Council inquiries had asked the accusers to cooperate with their accuser. Action was forced only when numerous students complained in writing and were ready to riot, and one student was on the verge of committing suicide.

Prof. Vasanthi Arasaratnam

Prof. Vasanthi Arasaratnam

The four years of licence to do anything with the women under his authority that the Council effectively gave Dr. Darshanan is now showing its consequences. These consequences are undermining the academic standards of the university. Darshanan is gone, albeit temporarily, but the effects of his stewardship of the Department of Music refuse to go away. His ghost is haunting the university.

University admissions are based on the z-score, a normalized system of marks that allows a comparison of performance in subjects where it is easy to score with that in subjects where it is difficult to score. Unlike raw marks, the z-score yields a 1.0 for the medium of the raw marks and forms a common basis for comparison. Those on the merit lists for say engineering and medicine get a z-score of around 2, way off the norm on the upper side. In subjects that no one wants to do, even a z-score under 0.5 may merit admission. The RAFA is a place where the score is well off the norm in subjects like music that few want to do. As such the students too are from families where there is no culture of protesting when there is injustice.

Generally the z-score system gives a good way to base admissions on. However, there are some subjects where it is claimed that aptitude is important and has to be measured as a part of the admission process. Thus Architecture is a subject where academics measure aptitude to depart from the strict use of the z-score and it is common and not surprising to see the children of academics being assessed to have high aptitude and getting admission. Although many recognize this as unfair, it is difficult to change because academics run the university system and want that system retained. However, keenly competitive subjects like medicine and engineering also demand aptitude but it is never assessed because favoritism there will result in a riot.

A less noticed anomaly is in fine arts where also an aptitude assessment prevails. By itself, one cannot make a strong case against the practice of assessing aptitude in music.

All that, however, has changed with the brazenness of Darshanan’s alleged marking for over 4 years. For example, Niththika Rasalingam with a z-score of 0.8072 has an A. Level grade of A in Carnatic Music, and a First Class Certificate in the Grade 1, Grade 2 and Grade 3 Examinations of the North Ceylon Oriental Music Society, and a Second Class in Grade 4. She was not selected because of Darshanan’s grading. Those with much lower AL grades in music have been admitted. Fortunately for Niththika, Eastern University’s Swami Vipulananda Institute of Aesthetic Studies has admitted her.

However, there are many others, especially from areas like Mannar who have good AL grades but have been denied admission based on Dharshanan assessing their aptitude in music. Those failing, it is alleged, are usually dark-skinned and lack the sophistication of city girls with good dental care. Many, the complainants say, were not even allowed to sing all the songs that usually make up an exam and were asked by Darshanan to go away part way through the exam.

A member of the university Senate testifies that Darshanan had proposed two other lecturers as his co-examiners but the Dean of Arts at the time, Prof. V.P. Sivanathan, had disallowed it saying that one of the examiners had never sung professionally and both were under Dharshanan’s thumb. Yet, at the Senate where examiners are approved, the VC (who chairs the Senate) insisted on Dharshanan’s choice saying that the Department Head must decide. The rest is history.

Now more and more students have begun to complain. They are being joined by their school teachers. University of Jaffna’s Employees’ Union has issued a public call for justice for three students, Niththika Rasalingam, Kirijalini Ambikaipalan and Thivya Suthakaran. The union has demanded an inquiry into how all three have a grade of A in Carnatic Music at the A.Level but have failed the RAFA aptitude test. This they find unbelievable they say because the AL exam draws 50% of the marks from a practical singing component. (See their press release in Tamil)

The union says that a complaint had already been filed with the Council but the Council seems to have ignored it. Explained a Professor with Council experience:

We grew up in Jaffna with a lot of respect for senior Mr. K. Nesiah’s contribution to education and were so glad when his son Dr. Devanesan Nesiah with experience as a Permanent Secretary was put on our Council. Devanesan raised many pertinent issues but was always rudely put down by the VC. Devanesan is a decent man and he cannot shout back like a street fighter in the VC’s style. So he has lapsed into silence. It is nearly a year and the VC is punishing him by not paying him his travel claims and meeting fees. The council is practically dead. When Devansesan can be shut down so easily like that, no one dares to protest about anything. The UGC has given the VC a blank check with impunity to do anything despite the unions documenting here abuses in recruitment. Nothing will happen to Darshanan. The students have no chance in this system.

In the meantime the UGC has finalized admissions for the coming academic year. What can be done to give justice to poor rural children who were failed for being dark-skinned or having bad teeth because of their poverty? Mr. S. Kalaraj, a Joint Secretary of the Employees’ Union, hopes there will be an inquiry and that at least some students will be accommodated in filling vacancies. “It has gone on for too long, and we must make sure that at least next year we have a proper system in place,” he says.

Who will listen?

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Latest comments

  • 7
    9

    What do you expect from University of Jaffna where qualifications have no meaning?

    • During the LTTE period, external degrees were given to those who never sat the exam.
    • A person who did education for his first degree became Lecturer in Sociology, went to the Philippines for his PhD, failed, came back with a nervous breakdown, did his PhD locally and became VC
    • A person who failed to qualify for ALs went to India for a home science degree, did a master’s in Colombo without a significant research component, was illegally recruited as Lecturer in biochemistry and became VC claiming a first degree in biochemistry.
    • Under the LTTE, children of professors who had only OLs, used forged AL certificates to get degree admission in India, and later joined as lecturers
    • Etc., etc.

    • 11
      0

      Is prof Ms.Vasanthy Arasaratnam really qualified for the job of VC?
      What are her academic qualifications and what experience does she have for performing her job as VC?
      How was she selected?

      • 5
        3

        Uthungan

        “As has been reported in Colombo Telegraph Dr. S. Dharshanan, Head of the Department of Music and a close relative of Jaffna VC Vasanthi Arasaratnam, was suspended from service without pay following numerous accusations of sexual harassment by his students and staff colleagues at the Ramanathan Academy of Fine Arts (RAFA). These accusations had been there from 2011 but the Council inquiries had asked the accusers to cooperate with their accuser. Action was forced only when numerous students complained in writing and were ready to riot, and one student was on the verge of committing suicide.”

        Vellahala looking after other Vellahalas?

        “Is prof Ms.Vasanthy Arasaratnam really qualified for the job of VC?”

        She probably has the Most Importanbt Qualification, being a Vellahala.

        Can somebody please surprise Amarasiri? Amarasiri has never been to Jaffna, Vellahalistan where rumors rage that Vellahala are supreme, at least going by the CT Articles by H L D Mahindapala.

    • 8
      0

      The LTTE ruled Jaffna from 1990 to 1995. How many VC’s were there during this period? only two. They were still appointed by the UGC.

    • 9
      0

      As far as I know, LTTE was never control of the University. There were and are some dummy idiots in senior roles, but the claim that “During the LTTE period, external degrees were given to those who never sat the exam” sounds too good to be true. If you know a name, or what degrees in which years, please release them. You can’t make a simple comment like that without any proof.

      II know, we heard about how Mahinda passed the Law College exam and how Namal got record breaking marks in the :Law College. We know how Yoshitha got his position, scholarship and more.

      But, you cannot degree ALL Jaffna University degrees and all good students with this random comment.

      • 2
        1

        Where were you Rohan and KDW when MP Gajendran lived on campus around 2005 and ran the university? The days when you could lie and people would keep quiet in fear are over. Have you not heard or read of external degrees being offered to Maaveerar families and university officials smuggling in their own names? This scandal broke under Prof. Mohanadas. Does not mean he was part of it. But he certainly feared to confirm newspaper stories at the time.

    • 8
      0

      /Under the LTTE, children of professors who had only OLs, used forged AL certificates to get degree admission in India, and later joined as lecturers/

      etc. etc????

      I like those people to be exposed.

      Name those people. Please put up or shut up.

      • 1
        0

        Many at the university know the case of the daughter of the professor who supervised the doctoral work of Peradenya’s Prof. Hesbulla who is now on the Jaffna Council. She left for Canada after joining the faculty and marrying. Many of us looked the other way at a time when there was no one to teach.

        They are all protected by a strong network.

  • 3
    2

    “How was she selected?”

    because of her double chin.It denotes wisdom according to ancient tamil records.

  • 5
    0

    This is a terrible state of affairs and the Govt shoud replace the VC of Jaffna Uni and also press criminal charges against Dharshanan

    BTW,is this confined to just the Jaffna Uni only ? any idea about whats happening in other unis?

    as for schools there have been many case of affairs between teachers and principals including the recent one in Colombo

    Hope stuff like these can be rooted out

  • 3
    0

    For those of you, who want to know the academic qualification of Dr Vasanthy Arasaratnam, please refer her web link from the front page of the U of Jaffna webpage!.

    https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=N6dOR8cAAAAJ&hl=en

    I have a request for the VC of Jaffna Dr Vasanthy Arasaratnam. Please take away your personal information from the front page of U of Jaffna’s home page. We don’t see personal information of VCs of U of C, U of M or U or P are on the front page of their websites. U of Jaffna is not about you. Thank you.

  • 3
    0

    Guys..just view her profile in J/University website ..you’ll find lot of funny things…

    • 3
      0

      such as….?

      Have a look at Professor SGJN Senanayake of Ruhuna University.

      I am sure many VCs in Sri Lanka would not have many papers or qualifications to show.

  • 1
    0

    “Dark skinned applicants with bad teeth” are failed.
    Are these “poor” childern from “low castes”?
    What is the caste composition of the student body? Mostly “high caste vellalah”?
    What about the lecuurers?
    Mostly vellalah?

  • 5
    1

    Discuss more deeper problems in local University system rather Jaffna petty case. Girls/boys have to happy somebody is doing this service also to them in addition to educating them. Everybody knows that after 12 years on you need sex.I like to propose following measures to clean Universities and get back to old golden days.
    1) Identify and transfer all family members work in same University/Dept/Faculty as Lecturers. Recheck how these all family members came to system and penalize the responsible. Sometime wife is writing articles putting husband’s name for articles and husband getting professorship without shame (what ethics) presenting these to promotions.
    2) Recheck all Lecturers and Professors qualifications and publications based on that re-grade them.
    3) Never sent job applications received for academic positions to the respective academic depts. If you sent these applications they remove qualified PhD people and only interview henchmen.
    4) Remove good business subjects from Arts faculty and hand over to Science and Technology faculties. See how Arts faculty destroyed good names of many good disciplines. Today Arts faculty products (graduates) are a symbol of unemployment.
    5) Famous family dept must be closed and appoint President Commission to check inside and FCID must be called to checked inside for last 20 year period.
    6) Never give professorships for jokers.
    7) Reduce retirement age for academics 65 years to 60 or 58.
    8) Follow strict rule while appointing Professors: In order to be a real international professor your PhD from world top 100 University, minimum 20 articles in ISI/SCOPUS indexed journals, 10 text books with international publishers and three countries have to appoint you as a Visiting professor.
    9) Never allow any dept to issue first degree if you do not have sufficient number of PhDs in that dept. Take some Universities many Deans do not have PhDs. This is a recipe for disaster.
    10) UGC can directly take task of recruitments of lecturers and give to respective Universities. This must be done quickly.
    11) Select the best Lecturers with help of private sector independent body and sent to world top 100 universities with strict bond requirements.
    12) Many of these so called academic jokers are now entering into professional bodies or they themselves create own fake professional bodies and they destroyed that profession also.
    13) Develop comprehensive web sites for each University and say to show Publications with indexing place to public by each academics (not joke conference papers) and degrees where (Country and the University and international ranking of that University) they got their PHD. Today the most important thing is your PhD must come from accredited, ranking (at least 100) best University of the world to recognized your University basic products.

  • 2
    0

    Peradaniya University English dept also such womanish fake professor. His name [Edited out]

  • 3
    0

    The Nesiah family is an adornment to Jaffna. If Devenesan Nesiah is treated by this VC as stated in the aforesaid article,time is ripe to throw this VC out lock,stock and barrel!

  • 3
    0

    Today, 30 May, 2016, the university council met. (It meets usually on the last Saturday of each month).

    Briefed on how to approach the Council by the Employees’ Union, students handed in the written complaints from the affected A. Level students.

    Dean Science, Prof. Srisatkunarajah, who has taken on the role of the VC’s Alsatian guard dog, blasted the students. Without any knowledge of the AL students, he accused the students of forging the signatures on the letter. He demanded, “What? Have you come to shoot me?”

    The tactic is to scare the students into not complaining. Observers will note that addressing complaints is the way to solve problems and suppression will lead to explosions.

    Will the Minister take note please?

  • 3
    1

    What a pity. I remember, years ago, so many Sinhala students from the South sought admission in Jaffna schools – St.John’s College, Jaffna College, Hartley
    College etc.- coveting the high standard, academic excellence and discipline. There are too many complaints for too long against this V.C. Vasanthy Arasaratnam. Is she a virago and a vixen? Who is propping her up? Enough is enough. Please throw her out soon and save the students and salvage the reputation of the only institution for tertiary education in the North. Anybody listening?

  • 4
    1

    If you can’t run a university properly,how can you run a state?!!

  • 3
    0

    To High authorities,
    Please take a serious look into the faculty of Management studies and commerce. There is no governance and ethics in the faculty. The Dean Prof Velnampy supervise more than ten PhD students (( Most of them are faculty senior staff)) from various disciplines including FM, Marketing and Accounting.. But he has gained his PhD from HRM. But he has been attached the Department of Accounting. Nimalathasan appointed as a Professor in Accounting.But he doesn’t have any accounting background.He received his PhD in entrepreneurship. Dean and his friends arrange a conferences every year..But there is no standard and quality work for this conference.Dean tries to make money under the conference banner. Please try to examine the quality of conference. SL government has been allocated millions dollar since 2009. But Dean try to misuse all the fund for his own benefit and agenda. There is no benefit for students.

    • 2
      0

      What is HRM, please? Human Resource Management? From which University?

      Jaffna certainly deserves a University, but surely not one run on the lines that reports have been implying for so many years.

  • 2
    0

    Mathu.

    Why not close down the Jaffna University?

    IT has become a Nudist Colony!

  • 6
    0

    The Jaffna University was a visionary project largely fathered by staff and students of the Peradeniya university and mothered by the Sirimavo government. It was the only dream come true for the Tamils in their post-independence story. It was rejected by the Tamil political establishment of the day, who did not want Sirimavo to get credit for what she had unexpectedly done.

    After showing much initial promise it descended into the abyss over the decades to become largely a mediocre degree factory administered by mediocre dwarfs, political stooges and outright cads, with few exceptions. Even the exceptions could not make difference, because of the prevailing political climate. The manner in which the LTTE penetrated and controlled this University, is a shame that has not been highlighted yet. The subsequent, Douglas Devananda rule in Jaffna completed the circle to make what the U of J , is today.

    The present Vice Chancellor is also a byproduct of the above outlined process of decline. Mediocrity breeds mediocrity and excellence breeds excellence!! The institution itself has now reached the next stage of its decline-vicious deviousness. She is also a victim as much as the institution and the Tamils-whom it serves-are.

    It is the people – who to all appearence know no better- who should rally to demand major reform and performance from this university. Can they? I doubt it. The only alternative, if we are serious, is to shut it down and rebuild it ground up, before it declines further. Who will bell the cat, in the circumstances we are in?

    Dr.Rajasingham Narendran.

  • 0
    0

    Mathi,
    You mentioned people having accounting related degree(Please go and check),with out evidence dont disclose your jealous (you dont worry about it). Professor is not a degree it is contribution to the filed. Please check the circulars, which can be given by the panel of evaluations whoever in the Professor in the respetive field. Professors were selected by Senate not YOU (MATHI), Senate is having super power.

    • 0
      0

      Hello there,
      Don’t lie.
      I challenge about their accounting background ..Nothing jealous..This is our nation issue..We can’t avoid their unethical work .please think carefully and safe our people

  • 0
    2

    // fathered by staff and students of the Peradeniya university and mothered by the Sirimavo //

    Rally? She was perhaps good looking, but to suggest that some Peradeniya staff had sexual liaison with her is insulting (to us Peradeniya staff, I mean).

    • 5
      0

      Dear Thimbirigasyaya,

      Until I saw your dirty comment, I wouldn’t have even thought of reading that in anything other than a metaphorical sense!

      • 4
        0

        Oh, very sorry Sinhala_man and Plato, I completely missed the metaphorical part of RN’s comment, silly me, got so absorbed by the title of the article being about sex…

  • 4
    0

    Sinhala Man.

    If we had more Sinhala Men like you there would be no ethnic problem in this country.

    Having said that,Dr.RNs comment has been taken out of context by Thimbirigasyaya.
    Dr.RN,I am aware is a straight bat.

  • 4
    0

    Thimbirigasyaya.

    You are a decent soul.

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