18 December, 2017

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Jaffna University Teachers Question Closure Of Universities

“If the closure was to do with the anniversary on 27th November, the University has the machinery to communicate with the students and seek assurances from them. The day was already taken care of by the mid-semester vacation. 27th November, the Mullivaykkal debacle of 18th May, the Anuradhapura massacre of 14th May and the Kattankudy Mosque massacre of 3rd August are all etched in our history. A mature university should have inter-communal discussions on how we look at history and how we are going to deal with it. An authoritarian university culture with its resort to the like of emergency regulations, will never take a mature approach.” asks the Jaffna University Science Teachers Association.

Writing to its Vice Chancellor the JUSTA says; “The UGC Chairman had no authority to instruct universities to in effect stop undergraduate programmes and give a vacation to undergraduate students.”

We publish below the statement in full;

To the Vice Chancellor and Members of the Council

University of Jaffna

Dear Sir/Madam,

We, the Executive Committee of the Jaffna University Science Teachers Association draw your attention to recent developments. These impair the democratic character of the University that is meant to be participatory and consultative, keeping in view the need to cultivate mutual respect among all sections; and certainly not be authoritarian in its approach. In this connection we draw your attention to recent messages and instructions about the closure of the University for three weeks. The content of the messages is contradictory, arbitrary and of questionable propriety. They resemble more the arbitrary powers usurped by the State under the Emergency Regulations and are devoid of the due regard that should always be implicit when dealing with fellow academics and students.

When instructions are given in an academic context that lack reason or substance, they degrade an institution and entrench a culture where arbitrary and unfair actions become the norm. It would take many years to come out of it. We look at some of these messages.

Jaffna University1. The UGC Chairman had no authority to instruct universities to in effect stop undergraduate programmes and give a vacation to undergraduate students. Such an instruction has to come from the Minister. The Chairman in her letter of 6th November was vague about the source of the order – ‘it was decided’. She was hard put to defend it. According to reports quoted by the FUTA, she had cited requests from students and ‘study about the CHOGM’. If her reason of traffic in Colombo is to be taken seriously, the whole of Colombo should have been vacated for the CHOGM, not just student hostels. The use of the library is important for students.

2. Following on the Chairman’s improper instruction, the Vice Chancellor, citing a discussion with the Deans’ Committee, decided on an extended vacation from 11th November to 1st December for undergraduate students of all faculties except Medicine. This exception points to a class difference that is inimical to the traditions of the University. Is it because medical students do exactly as they are told by their teachers and are unquestioningly obedient? What authority does the so-called Deans’ Committee have to require the vacation of hostels? The Vice Chancellor however did not declare the University out of bounds to students.

3. The Dean Science issued two notices. He did not refer to the Deans’ Committee or to the Vice Chancellor, and instead announced a decision of the Heads’ meeting to suspend lectures from 11th November to 1st December. He issued a second notice subsequently the same day, 7th November, ‘The Faculty of Science is declared out of bounds to the students’ for the period of suspension of lectures. He did not say where the authority came from. Neither was the Faculty consulted, nor was any reason given.

One could laugh at this confused welter of instructions, but the emerging culture in which they appear raises many troubling questions. As academics we are asked to do what we are told and to accept authority without question. The environment has lost its academic character. When we cohabit with unreason, we become unreasonable and corrupt. Aspects of the emerging culture are already visible.

If the closure was to do with the anniversary on 27th November, the University has the machinery to communicate with the students and seek assurances from them. The day was already taken care of by the mid-semester vacation. 27th November, the Mullivaykkal debacle of 18th May, the Anuradhapura massacre of 14th May and the Kattankudy Mosque massacre of 3rd August are all etched in our history. A mature university should have inter-communal discussions on how we look at history and how we are going to deal with it. An authoritarian university culture with its resort to the like of emergency regulations, will never take a mature approach.

Ours is the only university system the poor of this country have. If we downgrade it through abuse, we serve our students badly and will become party to the excessive regard given to qualifications outside our university system.

Thanking You,

Yours sincerely,

General Secretary -JUSTA

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Latest comments

  • 0
    0

    The UGC chairman is all-powerful,having endeared herself to the President,by ‘decorating’ him and his brother,with honorary degrees.
    She need not,therefore,explain her actions.
    This too,is also to appease the President.

    If students or teachers disobey,they will be arrested by the army and taken to distant camps for ‘rehabilitation’.

  • 0
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    When they, the UCG chairperson and her folowers sleep with Governing Dogs, They have to get up with Fleas.

    Fleas like Mekka Silvas.

    • 0
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      Hats off to these Jaffna University dons!

      Wish the southern SINGHALA universities had half the courage to stand up for ACADEMIC FREEDOM!

      Most of the lecturers in the Sri Lanka university system are themselves an ignorant, swabasha educated (Sinhala or Tamil) lot of frogs in the well.
      The university lecturers have no standards and most themselves do not know the meaning of “academic ethics or freedom”, so what do you expect from the poor students?

  • 0
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    Please dont get excited jaffna. cameron is not a sri lankan. please calm down.

  • 0
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    Sri Lankan Universities are full of jokers and out door connection based lecturers appointments. Therefore they do not talk about country’s problems. Even if you open it nothing going to happen. Check Colombo University Arts faculty famous family dept (Economics) run by grandfather Emeritus and how his all kins and kiths and henchmen became professors. Sons daughters, uncles..etc. Even retired people how still working in contract positions.

    • 0
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      I went to the University at 30 years ago. At that time,I knew how Idiots were appointed simply because of political affiliations or the tentative candidate was Fcuked by the Senior Lecturer.

      So, all it is about “CONTACTS” you have.

      • 0
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        which university did you go to Jim. We are talking of academic institution here. If you went to any of the srilankan universities 30 years ago you must be well educated, let see whether your name is in any of the university’s graduation list.

  • 0
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    The Science Dean would like to become the VC that is why he is doing like this.

  • 0
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    “The environment has lost its academic character…” .Its administrative character too.Recent Recruitment of minor employees shows that:They called for CV from List of candidates from the Ministry of HE.The closing date was 19th July 2013.But they had the interview on 10th& 11th July 2013. Some candidates from that list informed verbally by EPDP local area leaders.Others were omitted.The selected people got the appointment. No protests due to fear except a statement from non academic trade union.
    They should know that they are violating University Act passed by Parliament& Goverment/UGC Circulars.

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