University Crisis: The Minister And The Ragging

Filed under: Law and Order,Opinion,Politics |

By Professor Vijaya Kumar

Professor Vijaya Kumar

The Minister of Higher Education has taken on the student leadership. He has taken students to Courts, suspended student unions at Peradeniya, claimed that Lecturers are inciting students and that Police posts are needed in the Universities. An element of frustration has crept into his attempt to run the Universities as the pre-University military based training which was expected to reduce ragging has not had the desired outcome.

The rag which is organized and controlled by the JVP through its student leadership involves 2-3 months of harassment of students both at the Faculty and at the halls of residence. Having learned in the ’80s how easy it was to control populations, the JVP has used the ‘candidates lists’ procedure of the UNP University Act together with their slogan of ‘Eka matha’ to ensure no contest in student elections.

While we should not tolerate the rag, getting rid of the rag is easier said than done. Banning student unions is no answer at all. It will only increase solidarity and support for the present leadership and may if followed by repression make the student movement go underground and lead to a repetition of the events of the late ’80s.

While the list at Faculty level has very few JVP nominees, it is they who are nominated to the University Student Council and from them the JVP leadership appoints the Inter University Student Federation and its co-ordinator. The rag serves to humiliate the student and destroy any independent thinking which may lead to a challenge to the student leadership. Since halls are much cheaper than outside and living in the hall requires submitting to the rag, few students are prepared to confront the thuggery of the rag organizers or report ragging or raggers to the authorities. Furthermore Vice Chancellors whose survival depends on their Universities not being closed by student agitation are afraid to deal sternly with ragging or report incidents to the police.

While we should not tolerate the rag, getting rid of the rag is easier said than done. Banning student unions is no answer at all. It will only increase solidarity and support for the present leadership and may if followed by repression make the student movement go underground and lead to a repetition of the events of the late ’80s.

The student leadership claims perhaps with some justification that the policy of confronting students is aimed at ensuring a smooth passage and implementation of the Minister’s bill to promote private Universities. The repression of students and their Unions, the warning of University lecturers against agitating with the students against private universities and greater involvement of Police and Army in student control can be construed as steps in this process. While private University education has a role to play, the double-dealing, lack of transparency and dishonesty of the mudalalis running the Malabe medical college with the apparent patronage of government does not augur well for the future of such education in the country. Sri Lanka still spends the smallest proportion of its GDP on education in the region and the government cannot expect to obtain popular support for establishing private Universities until it shows the people that it is prepared to invest much more on University education and find places for most of the students qualifying to enter the University system.

Article is provided by the Team Anik Pituwa

*Vijaya Kumar is senior Professor of chemistry at the University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka. He also a senior member of the Lanka Sama Samaja Party Left Tendency.

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11 Responses to University Crisis: The Minister And The Ragging

  1. 0
    Ragging is sadistic. If JVP calls for liberation then they should not initiate ragging. Students from lower social classes rag the freshers from the same lower social classes. All these raggers and rag leaders are sons and daughters of petty farmers. Marx or Lenin had not advise or preached ragging. Marx said’The supreme conception to be worshiped by people is humanity or humanism”.Theses raggers are inhuman and they have links to JVP.Lecturers want to save their jobs. they also don’t have independent thinking. Learn Liberalism instead outdated marxism.

    January 3, 2012 at 1:30 am

    • 0
      Mr Lberal, This writer himself a long sanding Marxist, it contradicts what you say. I agree with you otherwise. lol

      pm Kulatunge
      January 3, 2012 at 1:41 am

  2. 0
    Totally agree with Professor Kumar! well said.

    Upul Abe
    January 3, 2012 at 1:38 am

  3. 0
    I was a student at the faculty of medicine university of Colombo from 1974-1979. I was working at the Peradeinya and Kandy hospitals from 1985 to 1985 and involved the medical students of Peradeinya. I worked at the Ragama hospital from 2003-2006 and moved with Kelaniya university medical students. Later I worked at the Kalubowila hospital from 2006-2010 and familiar with Jayawardanapura medical students. None of these medical students were tortured by unethical ragging. I am happy and proud. Why this unacceptable behaviour occurs only in other faculties? Who are behind this and what is the motivation? Why can’t the authorities prevent these after the grevious hurt and death of Varapragash?

    Dr M L Najimudeen
    January 3, 2012 at 7:47 am

    • 0
      Dear Najimudeen, The crux of the issue is that medical and dental students are inundated with their workload. Even if the seniors are after an exam they are preparing for the next semester/academic year. I was once told that arts students, among whom ragging is worse, have very few lectures/ assignments in most weeks. Thus they have nothing to do but sabotaging others lives. Engineering and science still report considerable degree of ragging for reasons that cannot be explained. In my opinion, in peradeniya the worst ragging can be seen in the faculty of allied health science, the nobody’s child at pera. AHS is a disaster, their students spent most of the past few years in front of the UGC or galaha junction. As a person who is conducting visiting lectures for them there is a stratling difference in their attitude compared to medics and dents. It is natural to surmise that this agony is transformed through the generations of students. As I always advocate, the best way to prevent ragging is by getting closer to the students. We the academic staff (at least most of it) have the idea that getting closer to the students, playing with them in the gym, participating in their activities of creativity is a sin that is going to degrade the so called status. These bunch of idiots think that the students are supposed to be in ‘ten-hut’ even in the canteen when a professor is in sight. As a student, I have experienced some senior academics do not even return a simple pleasantery such as ‘good morning’

      N Bandara
      January 3, 2012 at 5:03 pm

  4. 0
    It is good ragging culture in universities is stopped. New students are harassed by senior students. why?

    Gunapala Herath
    January 3, 2012 at 5:35 pm

  5. 0
    This indecent ragging in the universities must be stopped at any cost. The sadist low bred students who get into Universities are the culprits, who are backed by the bankrupt JVP activists. The Minister must take the maximum possible action to correct this situation, even if he has to sack 1000 students and jailing the worst offenders.

    Don Sarath
    January 7, 2012 at 3:20 am

  6. 0
    Ragging is not big problem in state universities. There are many other problems; no adequate human resources such as qualified and talented lecturers. Lecturers are not doing research and no publications. Then, Sri Lankan universities can not get good rank in Asia. Doors of the universities are not open for foreign students and paying degrees. Physical resources are also big problem. Government should convert universities more financial independent and able to earn money for their developments. University lecturers should create some fund such as research. Then, they are also financially sound and no need to go behind government pay hikes. Private-public-non-government joint research projects will help for this. Do not blame government always. General public in Sri Lanka belives university lecturers are not doing productive work. Some are engaging private tution, business and farming. No quality teaching, No research, No publications in top international journals

    January 7, 2012 at 3:25 am

  7. 0
    Any body checked what happening in the Buddhist monks hostels? May be the ever dirtiest things among all the university hostels in the island. In the last stage of ragging, they are stripping the new comers.

    January 12, 2012 at 5:25 pm

  8. Pingback: Brutal Ragging In The Sri Lankan Universities: Video Evidence | Colombo Telegraph

  9. Pingback: Brutal Ragging In The Sri Lankan Universities: « Sri Lanka

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