The following letter was received from the President of the St. John’s College OBA. Prof. Hoole’s response follows:
Thank you for asking me to respond to this note by the President of the St. John’s College OBA, Dr. T. Gobyshanger. The matter was discussed at the Executive Committee of the OBA immediately after my article appeared. I agreed that I used the title Vice President to identify my association with the college and did not claim anywhere to write on behalf of the OBA. I further agreed that I would pass on such a letter to you from the OBA Secretary and encourage its publication.
Unfortunately, this letter has taken months to come and been sent directly to you by President Dr. Gobyshanger only this month. That is his right, and I encourage you to publish it as I committed myself to doing. It is a strong indictment on the school’s management and a measure of the help and intervention it needs when President Gobyshanger’s letter was sent by Registered Post to “The Editor Chief, Colombo Telegraph, Colombo” on 12 Sept. 2022 and promptly returned by the Post Office.
As an OBA Vice President, acting for myself, I dissociate myself on four points in order of growing importance to a school like St. John’s as it cataclysmically slips in the ranking of schools for the reasons given in my article and shown by how President Dr. Gobyshanger’s letter was addressed:
1. My article is datelined 11 April, 2022 – not the 10th.
2. Grammar: The correct phrase is “contents … are,” not “contents … is.” Colombo Telegraph is the Publisher, not the Publishers. The phrase “absolute requirement” is vague.
3. It is not accurate to say, “We the Jaffna OBA do not endorse the said article.” As stated in the next point, there is no Jaffna OBA. As I told President Gobyshanger (but clearly have been unable to get through), the correct expression is “do not necessarily endorse.” To say we do not endorse requires a vote by the Executive Committee which was not done. Some members of the Executive Committee endorse my article. Others like the President do not. Without canvassing the views of members at a meeting, the expression “do not endorse” is not truthful. Alternatively, “we have not endorsed” would have been correct. It is also inaccurate when many agree with me, to say that the article is entirely my individual opinion. I hope Dr. Gobyshanger will take the time to think about the differences calmly and logically.
4. We are THE OBA. There is no Jaffna OBA as claimed by President Gobyshanger. As stated in the OBA constitution our name is “The St. John’s College, Jaffna, Old Boys’ Association.” The word Jaffna qualifies the College, not the OBA. That has confused Dr. Gobyshanger. The letterhead of the OBA he has used says it accurately. There is a separate OBA South Sri Lanka. In present times when “South Sri Lanka” is trying to take over everything, it is important to hold on to the few things over which we in Jaffna have authority without letting the South take us over by equating us to them.
S. Ratnajeevan H. Hoole