Ragging in our universities: A symptom or a disease?

Sri Lanka is one of the few countries that provides students the opportunity of a free secondary education. More than 200,000 students sit for the GCE Advanced Level examinations in Sri Lanka every year, of which only around 20,000 are selected to the fourteen universities across the country. It is possible to conclude then that this 10% who make it, are among the brightest and best brains in the country, who deserve every bit of the chance they get to ensure a better life for themselves. Surprisingly then, barely one year into their University careers, a few of these same students get angrily referred to in the media and among the public as being “mentally unstable” and even “psychotic”. The reason? Ragging.

Ragging is thought to have begun in educational institutions in the 18th Century and was very much in vogue in European countries. The concept was then adopted in the US in a milder form known as ‘hazing’, and spread across the world during the era of colonization, entering the Indian sub-continent along with the British education system. Stern laws against ragging have resulted in its eradication from the West and most of the rest of the world. However, in Sri Lanka, it remains.

In 1975, Peradeniya University was the first to report a major ragging related incident when a fresher of the Faculty of Agriculture became paralyzed as a result of having jumped from the second floor of the hostel to escape the physical ragging being carried out by the seniors. She later committed suicide.

Dr. Anoma Abhayaratne, the Dean of the Arts Faculty at the Peradeniya Univerisity, says that ragging continues to take place at Peradeniya, albeit in a milder form. “A lot of the time we get anonymous notes and parents call us anonymously to complain about ragging,” said Dr. Abhayaratne, going on to say that few students are willing to identify the raggers due to the fear of what might happen to them. However, some weeks ago, for the first time in the history of the university, a fresher lodged a complaint against twelve senior students who had ragged him excessively. “We are very concerned about the security of this student because of what might happen to him due to his having had the courage to stand up to the raggers,” Dr. Abhayaratne said, “The court ordered police protection for him but that is a big challenge especially in an university environment.” The Dean went on to state the case of another fresher who had been physically ragged to the point of sustaining internal injuries to his head. He is still undergoing medical treatment.

Unlike in other countries affected by ragging such as India, no official movements against ragging exist in Sri Lanka, and related information and statistics are almost impossible to come by. However, in recognition of the magnitude of the problem, the Sri Lankan Parliament passed a Bill in 1998 entitled the Prohibition of Ragging and Other Forms of Violence in Educational Institutions Act No. 20. Under this Act, ragging is defined as “any act which causes or is likely to cause physical or psychological injury or mental pain or fear to a student or a staff member”. The Act makes ragging a distinct and punishable offence under which any individual found guilty would be subjected to two years rigorous imprisonment, ten years if the rag were to lead to sexual harassment or grievous hurt. In addition, depending on the gravity of the offense, students found guilty could face expulsion from the University.

More than ten years after this law became effective however, ragging continues.

In 2002, Samantha Vithanage, a third year Management student at the Sri Jayawardenapura University, pioneered an anti-ragging campaign in the University in an attempt to stop the practice. On November 7th that year, the anti-ragging campaigners sat down for a discussion with the JVP controlled student council who defended the practice. Midway through the discussion, a mob of around 200 JVP supporters armed with clubs and stones stormed into the room and viciously attacked Vithanage and others in the anti-ragging camp. The attackers stabbed their victims with shards of glass and Vithanage who was struck, fell to the floor and had a computer monitor dropped on his head. Two days later he died.

Although the death of 22 year old Vithanage subdued the rag at the Sri Jayawardanapura University for awhile, students say it still occurs. While the rag is now less physical, it continues to be brutal, and a third year Management student recalled her rag as a fresher two years ago where one of the ‘activities’ the freshers were forced to do involved rubbing their hands in mud just before meals and being told by the seniors that they could only wash their hands once; either before eating or afterwards. Needless to say, many freshers went without meals for days.

A senior Professor at the Moratuwa University, who declined to be named, says that ragging is no longer the problem it once was. “Ragging has been eradicated to a large extent, especially in Moratuwa,” he said, “The administration doesn’t really consider it a big problem and because students don’t come forward to complain about it there is no real pressure on the administration to take any measures to prevent or stop it.” He went on to say that some students even consider it a “badge of honour” to have been ragged, but also said that he knows of students who have quit their degrees because of the humiliation they have been subjected to during the rag.

Kanthi Wickramasinghe (name changed) is one of those students. Having secured a place at the Bio Science faculty at the Colombo University, Kanthi endured two months of ragging before she finally decided that it was not worth it. “The last straw was when they singled me out and told the rest of the batch that they would be punished if they spoke to me,” said Kanthi who had also been banned from going to the canteen and attending meetings held for the freshers. “It was one thing to be ragged as a batch but to be targetted personally, partly because I had studied at a private school in Colombo, was unbearable,” she said.

The Arts faculty at the Colombo University has been free of ragging for the past five years. This year though, that changed. A group of students who themselves had never been ragged at University, began to randomly corner students in the canteen and verbally assault them, making demands that girls could only wear skirts or dresses to campus. Malini Fernando (name changed), a fresher at the Colombo Arts faculty, said that if a student not from Colombo wore jeans to campus, the raggers would yell at those from Colombo, accusing them of corrupting the others. “They go to the extent of threatening to kill you if you don’t wear a skirt,” said Malini, and even though the freshers are confident that the raggers do not mean this seriously, casually dishing out death threats is not something to be condoned.

The administration at the Colombo Arts faculty, for their part, seems to be willing to control the rag. “The lecturers gave us their numbers and told us to call them if we get ragged or see anyone getting ragged,” said Malini. However, she went on to say that many lecturers seem reluctant to be identified as being anti-ragging. “The lecturers don’t come while the rag is happening,” she said, “they only come afterwards.” One wonders about the wisdom in that.

At Kelaniya University, which has seen its share of student clashes, the authorities have taken an extreme and certainly unpopular approach of having police officers stationed both outside and inside the university. However, students say that the presence of the police does little to curb the ragging. “Most of the time the police just watch and laugh while the students get ragged,” said Sasha Perera (name changed) a fourth year Arts student, who went on to say that a few senior students had taken to saving freshers from the rag. “We try to flank them on either side when they enter the university so that the raggers can’t get to them,” she said, “But obviously we can’t save everyone and strangely, a few even say they want to be ragged.”

Michael John (name changed), a recent graduate from the Kelaniya University, sees ragging in a different light. “My batch-mates and I still laugh together about what we went through at our rag,” said Michael, who had in turn ragged his juniors when in his second year. “I tell people to think of ragging as an experience,” he said, “I’m very glad I went through it because I would probably have been more of an obnoxious prick if I hadn’t.” While he does not condone any form of physical or extreme ragging, Michael feels that there can be positive side to ragging which is not necessarily demeaning.

In Michael’s opinion, ragging is a complex class issue. He identifies those who protest against it as belonging to the middle or upper-middle classes in society and sees those who practice it as coming from the poorer strata of society. The hue and cry over ragging, he says, is a reflection of the intolerance of the rich about being dictated to by people they look down on. He argues that far from the raggers suffering from an inferiority complex, the complainers instead, suffer from a superiority complex, and he sees those who quit University due to ragging as those who can afford alternate forms of higher education either abroad or in private institutions.

To the vast majority however, ragging is bullying. To them, most of those who practice it, do so to make themselves feel important, feared and respected. A few more do it out of peer pressure. Whatever the perspective, there is no justification whatsoever for depriving any student, whatever his or her background may be, from pursuing the University education that they worked so hard for. There should be little debate that ragging violates civilized norms of behavior and established human values and there should be no place for it in modern society, let alone in institutions educating and nurturing the best brains in the country.

Perhaps it is useful to analyze how Western societies where ragging originated, have succeeded in eliminating it. Is it due to strict laws and their effective enforcement? Or is it due to the fact that the disparities among the student populations there are not as vast as in a developing country like ours? Does the fact that all students pay for their education make them feel more equal?

There are many views on the root causes of ragging varying from it being a psychological problem to it being a form of expression of frustration against inequalities, injustices and disparities in society, particularly the wide urban – rural and rich – poor gap that continues to exist. Proponents of ragging see it as a means of equalizing the wide disparity in social status that exists in a university student body, as well as a means of ensuring that those from more priviledged backgrounds become aware that they are no better that those from less priviledged ones. Politicization of university student movements, which exist despite claims to the contrary, may also be a contributory factor.

Is the Western success in eliminating ragging replicable in a country like Sri Lanka? Perhaps legislation can only go thus far and no further than in eliminating extreme forms of ragging that lead to grievous hurt or death. Depending on one’s view on the root causes of ragging, until some of the wide spread disparities in society are addressed and the gaps bridged, ragging may be one of the few negative consequences of an otherwise equitable free education system, that students just have to put up with.

Having said that, apart from legislation and deterrent punishment, a more effective approach to address the problem of ragging in Sri Lanka, would be through creating awareness and conviction about the futility of ragging among the students themselves. In this context, anti-ragging student movements starting within the universities is a step in the right direction and presents the best opportunity to effectively address this long standing problem. It should therefore be wholeheartedly supported and encouraged by everyone who wishes to see Universities in Sri Lanka rid of ragging.

By Nishika Fonseka, Groundviews Staff Writer

  • http://sachtheone.blogspot.com Sach

    Dear Ms Nishika

    Thanks for the timely and appropriate and quite unbiased article. Let me add my two cents as well with a first hand experience of being a university student at Peradeniya for four years. Perhaps we can turn this into a fruitful conversation and make it useful. I’ll first tell you about mylsef. I was a student of the Faculty of Science at the University of Peradeniya (UOP) since 2003 and graduate in 2006. I completely oppose ragging at any level, and has been an anti-ragger througout my university life. I did not get ragged, and neither did I rag anyone else as I belive that ragging, as quite rightly statud by law even, is a human rights violation, not to mention a shameful act. And everything I mention hereafter would be in regard to UOP as I have little or no knowledge of the ragging in other universities.

    First let me contradict Dr Abhayaratne, the Dean of FOA. Indeed many students are not willing to come forth opposing the ragging, but that alone should not be a reason for not being able to eliminate ragging. As authorities of the university she and the staff has the autority to visit canteens, common rooms and hostels, and all they have to do is visit them during the hours they know that ragging is going on. Usually, every morning before lectures canteens will be common places of ragging. So are student hostels after lecture hours. But they do not do so. One reason, they don’t want to be bothered as it will take them out of their comfort zones – who wants to be bothered with all this when you could just do your teaching and stay away. Second, even some (if not most) of the lecturers themselves did get ragged and did rag the others while they were students, hence to not really oppose it. I do not know personally about Dr. Abhayaratne, but she along with other staff members sure can do a lot more to eliminate ragging.

    Secondly, there is some resistance to ragging in the form of anti-raggers at Peradeniya. Specially in the Faculty of Science and Faculty of Engineering. I was an anti-ragger, and in my time there were more than 300 anti raggers in the FOS alone. There were as many in the FOE as well. And, if you are a new comer and is not willing to get ragged you could easily join the anti-raggers and you would not get ragged anymore. From the day one I was an anit-ragger, there were senior anti-raggers who told us where to be, what to do, what not to do, and we were fine. Raggers did not come to rag us anymore, and we enjoyed quite a free life at the UOP. So, if you do not want to get ragged it’s quite easy in FOS – you jut have to hang out with the anti-raggers.

    However, there is a problem. In fact, I think this is one of the main reasons why many students at UOP gets ragged. Hostels. In the UOP, there are only a couple of hostels where an anti-ragger can stay without being harassed. The Akbar Hall at the FOE premises and the Sarasavi Uyana Hostel near teh FOS. There are no anti-raggers in other hostels, so it is not practical for tehm to stay there as you’re sure to be beaten to death (literally) at night if you stay there. But ther is no enough space to accomodate everyone in those two hostels either. Bottom line is, if you need to stay in those hostels, you’ve got to get ragged. Now, most of the anti-raggers (I’d say around 90%) are from around Kandy. Including myself. So we do not need accomodation since we can travel daily from our homes. But many students who come from outside Kandy do need accomodation, but not everyone can afford hostels / apartments / private boarding places from around Kandy. I doubt even that there isn’t enough such places available. So, because of this many freshers who come from outside of Kandy have no option but to get ragged in order to stay in the university.

    So, obviously one thing that needs to be done if you need to eliminate ragging is to find a solution to this problem. It’d difficult, but not impossible. The other thing is, as you quite rightly put, we need to spread awareness. When they come to the university, most of the students aren’t even aware of the group anti-raggers. Even the student from Kandy. And unlike the raggers who try day in and day out to “recruit” students to be ragged, most of the anti-raggers don’t bother to go spread awareness among students. For one, this leads to many conflicts (even physical) and anti-raggers do not want that. After all, 300 agains 3000 is hardly a match. So, if we could all spread awareness that if you want to be free of ragging, ther is an option, then more students will take it I’m sure. Though I was an anti-ragger I personally know many of the ragging students and I assure you most of them because raggers because they did not have an option. And when their term comes, only a few actively participate in ragging and leading ragging. Others merely follow. In short, many who got ragged do not enjoy it – they know it’s a shame and useless, but are afraid/ashamed to admit it.

    Also many freshers are decieved by raggers saying they wont be able to survice four years in the University without the help of them. Not so. In fact, MOST of the anti-raggers get quite good grades, most of tehm go on to join the temporary staff and you could always turn to them for help. Another lie that’s spread is that if you become an anti-ragger you won’t even be able to find a practicle partner. There is hardly a lecture where you’d be teh only anti-ragger, besides in lectures you can’t really be bothered. Raggers, anti raggers they all mix up. No problem. So again, spreading awareness would be a VERY good start towards eliminatin this disgraceful act in our universities. We acutally sometimes feel ashamed for being one, seeing what some of our students do. This definitely need to be corrected.

  • CSS

    The only way forward is to implment the law to the letter. Once the raggers get punished, the others wil be reluctant to take the risk. There would be more & more students willing to testify as well.

    Our problem so far has been, the punishments meted out would always get cancelled when the students strick or due to influence of politicians.

    Just like we were able to face the international pressure without bending during the LTTE war, the authorities should stand fast & not change the rules to satisfy the student unions & politicians who support such criminals.

  • Dee

    “intolerance of the rich” ? What a load of crap. So you wear jeans and you’re automatically rich? Pardon my language, but ragging is bullying and it is a right of a student to say NO. This is pure terror and fueled by the JVP. It really irks me that my monthly private-sector salary, or my restaurant bill or my grocery bill, helps the free education and THIS is what happens. All the public wants is these jokers to be is educated, and then contribute to our economy. is that too much to ask really?

  • Michael John

    Hi,

    Please correct my statements as I have been misquoted here :

    He argues that far from the raggers suffering from an inferiority complex, the complainers instead, suffer from a superiority complex, and he sees those who quit University due to ragging as those who can afford alternate forms of higher education either abroad or in private institutions.

    My comments to Nishika was that the idea of an inferiority complex is reinforced by a superiority complex rather than what she has said here. I said that putting the rag down to an inferiority complex is an extremely classist and elite way of looking at the rag more so because it absolves the upper middle class from their portion of the blame for the prevalence and persistence of ragging in universities. The idea of an inferiority complex doesn’t just exist in a vacuum and it is reinforced by a superiority complex which i read in the present hue and cry over ragging in the University of Colombo.

    Furthermore I said that those who leave universities because of ragging generally have the choice or the options open to them. They have other avenues either of education or jobs open to them which to most other people is a luxury. If the only ticket away from your parents’ lives is your education then no matter what the provocation and how hard it is, you will stick it out as much as possible. I am aware of people who found the rag unbearable but yet found accommodation outside university and struggled through the 3 years of education simply because they didn’t have a choice.

    This is not to ignore the violence that is embodied in the rag. I am very much aware of the violence and very physical dimensions of the rag and as i told Nishika i cannot condone violence in any form. However my point to her was that we cannot be simplistic in how we see the rag and lose sight of the complex issues that the rag brings to the fore.

    I hope this will either be corrected and i am disappointed that my thoughts have been misquoted in a rather misinformed way.

    [Author’s Note: Dear Michael,

    I’m sorry you feel you have been misrepresented in the article and let me just address your comment.

    *My comments to Nishika was that the idea of an inferiority complex is reinforced by a superiority complex rather than what she has said here.

    The word ‘reinforced’ makes it rather different but I did not recall you using it, which is why I in turn didn’t. What I understood from what you said was that people who complain about ragging, suffer from a superiority complex due to the fact that they are being made to do things by those from perhaps less fortunate backgrounds than they themselves are.

    *I said that putting the rag down to an inferiority complex is an extremely classist and elite way of looking at the rag more so because it absolves the upper middle class from their portion of the blame for the prevalence and persistence of ragging in universities. The idea of an inferiority complex doesn’t just exist in a vacuum and it is reinforced by a superiority complex which i read in the present hue and cry over ragging in the University of Colombo.

    Again I don’t recall the word “reinforced”, but I anyway felt I had already made your point when I said earlier that “In Michael’s opinion, ragging is a complex class issue. He identifies those who protest against it as belonging to the middle or upper-middle classes in society and sees those who practice it as coming from the poorer strata of society

    *Furthermore I said that those who leave universities because of ragging generally have the choice or the options open to them. They have other avenues either of education or jobs open to them which to most other people is a luxury. If the only ticket away from your parents’ lives is your education then no matter what the provocation and how hard it is, you will stick it out as much as possible.

    I did not mean to contradict that when I said “he sees those who quit University due to ragging as those who can afford alternate forms of higher education either abroad or in private institutions.”

    *This is not to ignore the violence that is embodied in the rag. I am very much aware of the violence and very physical dimensions of the rag and as i told Nishika i cannot condone violence in any form.

    I feel I made that point when I said “While he does not condone any form of physical or extreme ragging, Michael feels that there can be positive side to ragging which is not necessarily demeaning.”

    *However my point to her was that we cannot be simplistic in how we see the rag and lose sight of the complex issues that the rag brings to the fore.

    This is the point I tried to make as well in the last few paragraphs when I said.

    “Perhaps it is useful to analyze how Western societies where ragging originated, have succeeded in eliminating it. Is it due to strict laws and their effective enforcement? Or is it due to the fact that the disparities among the student populations there are not as vast as in a developing country like ours? Does the fact that all students pay for their education make them feel more equal?

    “There are many views on the root causes of ragging varying from it being a psychological problem to it being a form of expression of frustration against inequalities, injustices and disparities in society, particularly the wide urban – rural and rich – poor gap that continues to exist. Proponents of ragging see it as a means of equalizing the wide disparity in social status that exists in a university student body, as well as a means of ensuring that those from more priviledged backgrounds become aware that they are no better that those from less priviledged ones. Politicization of university student movements, which exist despite claims to the contrary, may also be a contributory factor.

    “Is the Western success in eliminating ragging replicable in a country like Sri Lanka? Perhaps legislation can only go thus far and no further than in eliminating extreme forms of ragging that lead to grievous hurt or death. Depending on one’s view on the root causes of ragging, until some of the wide spread disparities in society are addressed and the gaps bridged, ragging may be one of the few negative consequences of an otherwise equitable free education system, that students just have to put up with.”

    However, I apologize again if you feel it was misinformed and that you were misquoted.

    Nishika].

    • Dean

      Seniors who rag deserve a good night or two in prison to teach them a lesson cowardly subhumans.

    • Dean

      jokes are okay and verbal abuse is tolerable. I have seen some harmless students assaulted so badly they were in the ICU and girls who were sexually abused… is it still a joke or harmless?? no it has reached untolerable levels. There is no place for this in modern society we are living in the 21st century we are not cavemen. Anyone who physically and sexually abuses others just for fun because they are senior are mindless subhumans and dont deserve education in universities.

  • RM

    I would like to thank Sach for writing out his thoughts about the existence of ragging in Peradeniya. I was a student of Faculty of Medicine Colombo 2 years ago where ragging is minimal or does not exist. (To my knowledge it only occurs in a so called “Buddhist” hostel, and definitely in a milder form). The reason for this is few years ago students of a particular batch took a decision not to rag juniors. Therefore the decision passed on and so the current “No-Ragging Here” attitude.And of course we were quite isolated from other faculties in UOC. Surprisingly along with this phenomenon out went the JVP activism within the faculty.

    If you conduct a survey among the students regarding this filthy act of ragging, you will be surprised to find that the majority of proponents and the active raggers belong to the lower and lower middle class. These are people with inferiority complexes who get a criminal pleasure of someone else’s misery and humiliation.

    What it does to the student other than the humiliation and mental agony ? This gives them a sense of belonging to a certain group, a sense of false security, seniors will look afetr us-attitude. With regards to the group behavior of people it is a well researched finding that “Harder it is to get into a group, the more the person will do to protect it”. It is the reason why some students who themselves were ragged want to keep the moronic tradition.

    I personally believe the act of ragging combined with narrow minded JVP activism kills the creativity of newcomers and makes them conform into a bunch of no-brainers easily carried with the bandwagon, whose job is to carry placards and shout slogans. They make good ground level labourers for political parties.

    The university was once thought to be an institution where creativity, novel thinking, new science, new ideas would be overflowing. Alas it is no more…
    Only a place for breeding unemployable youth.

  • OldPerastudent

    Dee,

    I agree with you to some extent. Going back to my past, I know what ragging means even after leaving the country two decades ago. Prevailing rag events in lanken unis are undoubtedly inhuman and an act of JVPers and some other intolerant classes in our society. This article is however very important to me. Atleast today, I got to know that a Bill entitled the Prohibition of Ragging and Other Forms of Violence in Educational Institutions Act No. 20 was already passed in lanken parliament. Then again this should be an another clear example that our law and regulations permit only for the book, not at all in action. If this was the case in France or Germany, those students would have immediately been punished according to their laws.

    Many those who ragged others were from village schools atleast to my time, two decades ago. I cant say that this was because of their inferior complex but I believe it was the knowledge that lacked among village students compared to ones from urban areas. The gap between urban and village schools were huge to that time. But as I see it today, even students from villages are well informed about everything prior to start their studies at unis, because of the internet facilities.

    If there are such bills passed, why cant the students go on a strike today is my question today. One of my friends´daughter was very hurt by a rag of a senior male student last week at K uni. She said she would rather stay at home unitl rag season is over. However, if lawmakers could react against those seniors could be great relief to those poor undergraduates who particularly belong to -thinn skinned category.

  • http://sachtheone.blogspot.com Sach

    Guess I’ve got a bit more to add here.

    Seems many think that JVP is the sole (or at least a very strong) cause of ragging. Not exactly though (and this comes from an ardent anti-ragger and I more or less think that the JVP is a joke) in my experience. It is actually more like the JVP exploit this opportunity to get more followers – a hidden agenda if you will though it exactly is not hidded anymore. For example, there are many poeple who are not JVP supporters but hardcore raggers. It’s more that JVP misguides (indeed, if you’re good enough to go to a university, you shouldn’t let yourself be misguided, but still) them and use the rag into their hunting ground.

    Then, just enforcing the law is a bit, well, impracticle. First, who is to enforce the law? There is staff, but half the staff doesn’t mind ragging to beging with. Then some of the poeple who get ragged like it (I know, stupid) and will they go to authorities? Then as I said above, the problem of hostels is a big problem. Also it’s not like these people rag in open everytime. Are you to assemble a police squad or something and go to every hostel room? Pretty much impractile again. Also you need to see how people become raggers. For example, as I said in my previous comment most of the anti-raggers of UOP are from around Kandy, who studied in schools in Kandy. And more than 90% of all Antonians and Trinitians in UOP are anti-raggers, while the students from other schools are not so. So this goes pretty much down to tradition, if you will. It’s like, when coming to the university most of them know that there are anti-raggers, most of your schools old boys are anti-raggers and you can hang around them. But take a school like Kingswood, Dharmaraja or Vidyartha. Among the students entering from those schools there are more raggers than anti-raggers. So upon entrance of newcomers these guys go meet the new comers and tell them to come with them an at start the rag is not portraited as evil as it is in reality. After all, for those guys it’s good to hang with the guys they already know, right? So then soon they become raggers and then you don’t really turn back. This is largely what happens, and then they stick with them forever. So, again, I think we need to raise the awareness – that is the more practical way or eliminating the rag.

    @Dee
    You generalization hurts.
    :(

  • PeraStud90TIES

    To RM:

    your response to this article reminded me my stay at Hilda Obe hostel, Pera Uni. Many of the rag activists were from Gampaha district at that time. To that time, there existed ragging also between the groups of the same batch. I still remember how my shirts and own belongings were stolen by several roudies either from A pura or Nochiagama. Some acted as if they were almost like today´s Mervin de Silva. When you listen to Mervin silva one can feel how far we should go back to restart our resocialization. Universiteis should be places where grown up students can extend their fields of knowledge. But these bullying behaviours of some were comparable to that of teenagers. Just making clans of their sorta they become stronger within the campus premises as if their campus life is a life achievement. Looking back all these, being on an another continent today, I feel , how indecent our students had then been (two decades ago). And jeshta uththamaya (seniors) behaved as if they re like know alls infront of immatured freshers; today I asked myself how can you feel like that superior even if you are a post doc. I believe our societies really need to change a lot. Law and order We also need to have sufficient numbers of sociologists and psychologists to discuss all these at the level of school going children. Psychology should be a subject at schools. Then our new generations will learn to think properly. If one can feel about the grief of others, the fraction of proponets of ragging ll gradually become the minority.

  • niranjan

    Nishika,

    There is no ragging in UK universties now. Instead the seniors through clubs and societies have ice breaking cheese and wine parties to welcome freshers.
    In your article you have mentioned that Colombo University arts faculty has started ragging again after 5 years. I wonder what the reason is?

  • Asanka

    Um.. Why doens’t anyone in the university system have the guts to just suspend the raggers for definite period of time, failing which sack them from uni, if that fails throw them in jail. Simple plan.

  • RM

    Further explaining my point, i believe ragging and its resultant issues kills the university spirit. The current attitude is copying a set of notes, or getting a “kuppi class” from seniors etc…(this is prohibited for anti-raggers). This is not much of an improvement from A/L student mentality.

    Universities should be institutions where questioning, dialogue, constructive criticism and rational arguments should exist between students; between students and teachers, and between teachers. Instead of that, current attitudes of seniors repressing juniors, and making them conform to a single group, kills the very single reason why universities were established. It no longer produces creativity, different and lateral thinking. Everyone is afraid of being different than the rest.

    Even-though laws are there on books, only a very small number of victims will complain to the authorities fearing retribution. Some authorities do not take action and shrug these things off. Others are afraid of students. If someone takes action so called “student unions” start their protests, pelting stones, burning university property, damaging teacher’s vehicles….etc.

    What exists within the universities is a reflection of our own society. Same greedy politicians, criminals and anti-social elements. They become the leaders of majority normal students, misguide them and wreak havoc.

    Laws themselves cannot stop them. There should be a change in attitudes of university students and those who are awaiting admission. University is not a place for bullying and fighting others, but a place for acquiring knowledge and skills that would enable one to advance their abilities for the greater good of the society and themselves.

    I agree with PeraStud90TIES that psychology should be taught in junior schools. This will help young men and women to understand themselves and others. The most difficult subject to learn is not engineering, medicine, law, physics etc.. etc.. BUT HOW TO THINK PROPERLY.

    If people start thinking correctly the menace of ragging would disappear from universities.

    If this doesn’t happen anytime soon, we have think twice before paying our taxes. Do we want our hard earned money pay for the free education of bunch of unruly gangsters ?

  • Sinhala_Voice

    RAGGING IS NOT A PLACE AT UNIVERSITY.

    * It is a sad indictment against our 2500 society. THIS RAGGING.
    *University is a place where it is supposedly INTELLIGENT people gather, future leaders IF these people tolerate, encourage, participate in RAGGING then NO WONDER our country has NOT gone anywhere.

    * No psychology….BUT simply ask the question: WOULD I LIKE TO BE TREATED LIKE THIS ????? IF the answer is NO. Then DO NOT DO IT.

    SIMPLE.

    DO NOT TOLERATE EMOTION PHYSICAL VIOLENCE

  • http://sachtheone.blogspot.com Sach

    @Michael John

    “Furthermore I said that those who leave universities because of ragging generally have the choice or the options open to them. They have other avenues either of education or jobs open to them which to most other people is a luxury. If the only ticket away from your parents’ lives is your education then no matter what the provocation and how hard it is, you will stick it out as much as possible. I am aware of people who found the rag unbearable but yet found accommodation outside university and struggled through the 3 years of education simply because they didn’t have a choice. ”

    So, don’t you think that you guys are exploiting the poor here? So while the rich can get away from rag the poor have to endure it just because they are poor? Such a nice way of treating the same class you guys claim to protect so viciously. Please do not insult them.
    You make me laugh!

  • Michael John

    @ Sach

    My point was that the poorer you are the less options you have to leave a university due to a rag and either find a job or follow an alternate course in a private university either here or abroad. I was simply trying to point out how some people have the luxury of options which most do not have.

    And seriously if you want to gripe about the exploitation of the poor you choose the rag???? If you think that this is us exploiting the poor I wonder if you would concur then with the assertion then that the armed forces also exploit the poor. As i understand it the majority of recruits to the armed forces are from the poor and under developed areas in the country. The reasons for the decision to join the forces i suspect is as due to lack of other job opportunities as much as the overwhelming nationalist discourse. So then isn’t that also an exploitation of the poor?

    And i also wonder is it _only_ because of “the victim mentality” that the rag continues in such a pervasive fashion throughout SL? I doubt it very much. I feel the rag raises and brings to the fore all these class conflicts that are below the surface which we middle-upper classites are insulated from and continue to ignore and suppress. The longer we ignore it and the longer we continue with these simplistic approaches to larger class issues, ragging will continue to haunt your dreams. Time to start dealing with it instead of trying to raise awareness by blogging on GV about how anti-ragging you are.

  • NO RAG ZONE

    With due reference to Sach’s comments made on November 3oth 2009, i wish to disagree with her primarily uninformed, narrow-minded view that the university administration lacks interest in doing away with ragging in the University of Peradeniya.

    Sach says, ” As authorities of the university she [Dr Abheyratne- the Dean of the Faculty of Arts] and the staff has the autority to visit canteens, common rooms and hostels, and all they have to do is visit them during the hours they know that ragging is going on”. For your information and for the information of all those who are reading, ‘that’ is precisely what the Dean and the staff have been doing during the recent rag season.

    A gathering of senior and junior Student Counselors (‘volunteers’ mind you) have been making rounds in canteens, hostels, and even washrooms everyday during the lunch hour just so that, the freshers may get a breath of fresh air in the midst of their horrendous experince of being ragged by the senior student monsters in sheepskin.

    And Sach goes on: “Usually, every morning before lectures canteens will be common places of ragging. So are student hostels after lecture hours. But they do not do so”. How do ‘you’ know that ‘they’ do not do so??? I, thorugh my first-hand experince can gurantee you that ‘they’ have indeed ‘done so’! Not only have the Senior Student Counselors visited hostels at ungodly times as 5.30 a.m but some singlehandedly have gone on inspection rounds even in the evenings. That too when they have their own familis and children to deal with. Not to mention the risk to their very own lives! For instance, one such Senior has constantly been insulted by the Rag-leaders who have been pasting numerous posters against the counselor in filth!

    “One reason, they [the Dean and the rest of the staff] don’t want to be bothered as it will take them out of their comfort zones – who wants to be bothered with all this when you could just do your teaching and stay away”, says the Unenlightened Sach. Who gives ‘you’ the authority to make such demeaning claims that you cannot even substantiate??? Just step over here and take a look for yourself and you will realize what a heap of dirt you have been dropping unnecessarily! The Dean and the rest of the staff have been going to courts against ragging, if you would care to know, at risks to their own lives! They have been to and from hospitals to secure the health of those who have been ragged. And yet, the rag monsters dare verbally abuse the Dean and the staff who are old enough to be their parents! Did you even know???

    “Second, even some (if not most) of the lecturers themselves did get ragged and did rag the others while they were students, hence to not really oppose it”. What irresponsible, uninformed, generalized comments are these! Did not Sach feel that s/he should at least do a bit more background check before such censor fell off her/his mouth? I personally both ‘am’ and ‘know’ numerous staff members who have not got ragged, who absolutely oppose ragging. And others who have got ragged do not endorse ragging at all. They ‘feel’ the suffering of the suffering freshers and yet, the ragging organization is monstrously intimidating that some may not come out for the fear of their lives. Fear does not spell ‘endorsement’ Sach; learn your language for God’s sake!

    ” […] thouh I do not know personally about Dr. Abhayaratne, but she along with other staff members sure can do a lot more to eliminate ragging”. Tell me one thing and suggest what ‘more’ she and the staff ‘can’ do, given the horrendous circumstances? If they have even gone upto the extent of risking their lives, what ‘more’ do you want???

    “Secondly, there is some resistance to ragging in the form of anti-raggers at Peradeniya. Specially in the Faculty of Science and Faculty of Engineering. I was an anti-ragger, and in my time there were more than 300 anti raggers in the FOS alone”. There ‘are’ anti-raggers in the Faculty of Arts too my dear Sach! And i too have not got ragged, nor have i ragged anyone else, nor do i endorse ragging. But, the problem is that the majority who thorugh fear and the intimidations of the seniors get ragged exceed the anti-raggers in numbers. and even when in inspection rounds, we inquire from the freshers of their grievances, they tell obvious lies and refuse to accept that they are being ragged. Now please, would you suggest a way that is ‘practical’ to get them to open their minds??

    Remember, as long as the victims do not speak up, as far as ‘legalities’ are concerned, there’s nothing much the society can do. Whenever, one encourages the victims to come into the open, their families beg to let them off. Tell me, do you have any brilliant suggestions? Tell me, what ‘can’ we do?

    And also of note is that there is also a species of beings who are ‘willinlg’ to become tortured. They can rightly be called a breed of ‘masochists’. Tell me and spin from your brilliant mind what solution do you propose? The predicament is far more complex than it seems to an outsider who can comfortably sit back and type a note generalizing to the maximum the reality to which s/he is blind!

  • http://sachtheone.blogspot.com Sach

    Michael John
    You go away from the topic, bring in some armed forces into this, but you did not justify ragging or neither did you proved that there is no exploitation of poor. I was just using your own logic.

  • http://sachtheone.blogspot.com Sach

    Dear NO RAG ZONE

    First, Sach, that is me, is not a she but a he.

    OK let’s say you (I’m suspecting either you are the Dean of the FOA, or at least a staff member but in case you are not, please do pardon me) ARE doing all that. Then, tell me, how come there is still the rag going on? You have not been successful, have you?

    Second, please do not call me “unenlightened” (OK call me that if you want to, I don’t care) but the thing is, I WAS a student at Pera, and I have seen all that, dear sir/ma’am. I’ve seen countless times the staff turning a bling eye because they want to stay away from trouble. And if the students have come to a point where they abuse Dean and the staff, don’t you think that there’s something wrong with the administration anyhow?

    OK so I see now that you are infact a staff member. First, please read what I have said; I said some (if not the most) staff members – so I did not say ALL. Second, how do you know htey all do not endorse rag? In my time, I know quite a few who were quite OK with the ragging, they indeed did not openly support rag as they were not in a position to do so but they did not mind it either.

    And where did I say there are NO anti-raggers in FOA? Thre are, there were and also I have never said raggers does not outnumber the anti raggers. So hwat’s your point?

    And, sir/ma’am, again I”m not an outsider. I’ve been there, seen that. I’ve had so many battles (luckily not physical), we stood for the right of freedom for four years. And I’ve said what I saw back then, and if you read me carefully you’ll see what I propose too. Thank you.

  • Kapila Kahapola

    I did study at Uni of J’Pura & passed out in 1998. Being a prominent member of 01st formal anti ragging movement in Sri Lankan University (Circle of Freedom aka Nidhahas Kavaya) thought I shall add my views as well.

    I do see 02 main motives in ragging namely,
    01) Find followers to JVP backed student group
    02) Find a lover

    As far as I experienced, Uni authorities must take the blame for this act which continues to terrorise the society (for its inaction of maintaining law & order). As members of Circle of Freedom we were regularly target by JVP backed student movement & subjected to physical as well as verbal abusses & assaults. Infact there were many many occasions where our members were brutally attacked by JVPers.

    I was attacked on 01st Oct’97 while reading for 03rd year examinations & was admitted to ICU of General Hospital for 3 days & was under strict observation of JMO for 72 hours with a head injury.

    As authorities were on a long sleep, we as a group took law in to our hands & were so kind to return the complements when JVPers go out of the University. And I must say it worked.

    Last but not least by any mean, I did see many occasions JVP ex parlimenterian Sunil Hadunnethige writting to news papers on protection of Human Rights & so forth I must say he used to be one such culprit who got himself busy abussing us at Uni in 1994…