After the Vice Chancellor of University of Jaffna, Professor Vasanthi Arasaratnam, refused permission for Jaffna University Science Teachers’ Association (JUSTA) to discuss the book Palmyra Fallen by Rajan Hoole, she has been under intense criticism for breach of a university’s intellectual ethos which she is expected to uphold.
When questioned by BBC Thamil Osai, she said it was not her decision but it was based on requests from the students and the larger University Teachers’ Association (UTA). She also said the Deans’ Committee had agreed to going by the requests to ban the discussion but Deans say she had a monologue with them and did not present any letters. The UTA denies they wrote asking the VC to ban the function. Students too deny there was any union decision to oppose the ban. It is said that an extremist section of the TNA had “instructed” the VC to stop the discussion while other senior mainstream sections of the TNA and government had warned her about the censorship.
“In the end the function was held by JUSTA and it was successful. The original programme was adhered to. Freedom of thought won the day.” a spokesperson for the organisers told Colombo Telegraph.
The charge against the VC is that she did not show any leadership and is unnecessarily involving and politicizing students to cover her shortcomings. JUSTA is now asking the UTA for a meeting.
Many are complaining that the sacking of the VC is long overdue and that this delay is a violation of the government’s commitment to those who voted for it.