Wednesday, August 22, 2007

[DailyMirror] Dons and undergrads embroiled over ragging

By Kelum Bandara

The University Grants Commission (UGC) and the Inter University Students’ Federation (IUSF) are on a collision course over the need to implement the Anti- ragging Act introduced to stop freshers being subjected to ‘inhuman ragging’ in universities.

UGC Chairman Prof. Gamini Samaranayake told the Daily Mirror that ragging was taking place in universities to achieve political objectives and that parents had complained to him about their children being harassed under the guise of being ragged upon entrance.

Prof. Samaranayake said an undergraduate had been assaulted at the Applied Science Faculty of the Sabaragmuwa University recently.

“In one instance at the Peradeniya University the jaw of a student had been broken. In another case, ear drums of a student have been damaged after being slapped,” he said.

He said it was essential for the authorities to implement the Act passed in Parliament during the tenure of former Education Minister Richard Pathirana to arrest this dangerous trend in the university system.

However, the IUSF countered these arguments saying that the incident at Sabaragamuwa University was a total fabrication by the student concerned.

IUSF Convener Duminda Nagamuwa said this student distorted the facts to get a replacement at another university.

Mr. Nagamuwa said they also opposed ragging at universities and that they had been able to control the subjecting of freshers to any physical form of ragging.

“When they introduced the Act in 1998, we opposed such harsh laws and ragging. However, there is a sub-culture in the university system which cannot be changed overnight. It cannot also be changed according to the interests of a few persons,” he said.

He said they mobilize students for a common cause through ragging, and the government was averse to it.

“When undergraduates start agitations against the government, it talks about inhumane ragging. If we do not agitate they never discuss this issue,” he added.

Mr. Nagamuwa said a few students had already been arrested under the provisions in this Act.

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