Stories about ragging in universities are again making headlines. Seventeen senior students of the Allied Health Faculty of the University of Peradeniya have been suspended from attending lectures because they are alleged to have ragged freshers. The official responsible for discipline in the University, Senior Lecturer Dr. Ashoka Dangolla, had said after inquiring into allegations of ragging it was decided to suspend the miscreants from March 23.
In another case, a new female entrant to the faculty had allegedly been ragged inhumanly and had given up following the course. What had allegedly happened was an inhuman type of ragging, Dr. Dangolla said adding that ragging was completely banned by the University and no one was allowed to engage in such activities.
Meanwhile the academics at the University of Kelaniya had reportedly suspended teaching activities in protest against on-going ragging at the university.
We can imagine what a disgraceful situation we have in our universities. After hundreds of unfortunate incidents including killings and suicides by the students over the ragging, a section of the university students who are considered to be the cream of the student community have not realized yet that the temptation for ragging is nothing other than a psychopathic condition.
We remember many deaths in our universities due to ragging and ragging-related incidents, some were suicides and a few others were brutal murders while the rest were unresolved but suspected to be linked with ragging-related incidents.
Rupa Ratnaseeli who was paralyzed in a ragging-related incident at the Peradeniya university in 1975, committed suicide in 2002; Chaminda Punchihewa died as a result of ragging at the Ruhunu University in 1993, Prasanga Niroshana died as a result of ragging at the School of Agriculture, Angunakolapallassa; S. Varapragash died of kidney failure following severe ragging at the Peradeniya University in 1997; Kelum Thushara Wijetunge died in the same way in the same year as Varapragash at the Hardy Technical institute in Ampara and two more female students who committed suicide and a partially paralyzed due to ragging at the Ruhunau University were the well-known incidents that shook the country.
Apart from these, Samantha Vithanage, a third-year University of Sri Jayewardenepura Management student, who pioneered an anti-ragging campaign, was killed on November 7, 2002 while at a discussion to stop the brutal practice of ragging in the faculty. This manifested the uncultured mentality as well as the inhuman nature of the raggers as it took place at a discussion. And the involvement of sexual abuse in many ragging cases clearly points to the sadistic side of the raggers’ mentality.
The Student union leaders who are in most cases affiliated to the JVP or its breakaway group, the FSP invariably deny the prevalence of ragging in universities, must stop trying to pull the wool over the people’s eyes, because ragging is a well known fact. And the students claim that they conduct familiarization programmes for freshers, as they are commonly called. This acknowledgement of conducting “programmes” for freshers, which is not required either by the university administration or by the curriculum, speaks a lot when it is read along with the past unfortunate incidents during ragging. The student unions that champion these “programmes” must be able to explain the requirement of those programmes in education whereas such familiarization programmes are not required in many huge work places where people have to work as a team.
Interestingly these student unions that defend ragging in the guise of so-called familiarization programmes are against the private universities in the country. But they cannot be blind to the fact that many students who had been selected to the State universities had opted to join private universities here and abroad, spending millions of rupees, as they were from affluent families, purely because of ragging in our universities. Such incidents deprive the university students of their moral right to voice their views against private universities.
If intelligence and prudence do not take precedence among university students, university administrators should allow the law of the country to take precedence.