Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Colombo Uni dons want ragging stopped

The Island, December 16, 2011, 9:17 pm Teachers of the Arts Faculty of the Colombo University have come under pressure from pro-government student activists to deny that there is ragging on the campus, The Island learns. Although the government tried to eliminate ragging by means of a leadership training programme conducted at military camps for prospective university entrants, first year Arts students at the Colombo University undergo severe ragging at the hands of students affiliated to the ruling party, according to sources. This newspaper recently published a letter by a victim highlighting their traumatic experience. The Island has secured a copy of a statement Arts Faculty teachers have prepared but not yet released to the media due to pressure from the pro-government student groups. Full text of the teachers’ statement: The Arts Faculty Teachers’ Association, University of Colombo (AFTA-CU) vehemently condemns the reported ongoing ragging of first-year students at the Faculty of Arts, University of Colombo. Ragging is reportedly carried out by senior students as well as by first-year students living in hostels, under cover of a so-called ‘probationary period’ imposed on first-year students. Hostel students ragging of non-hostel students pose the threat of clashes developing between these two groups of students. According to reports, senior students are: * Enforcing a dress code on first year students * Demanding that first year students make themselves easily identifiable to seniors by always carrying a special cardboard file with their assigned nicknames * Ordering male students to cut their hair and beards * Directing verbal abuse at first-year students, and carrying out many other acts of harassment. These are clearly violations of the bodily and mental integrity of new students. AFTA-CU strongly believes that the newcomers to the University should be treated with respect and dignity. They should be encouraged to engage in the University’s academic activities with full freedom and without any fear of being intimidated and harassed by any other student, senior or peer. Women constitute the overwhelming majority of Arts Faculty students. We recognize that any harassment or verbal abuse directed at female students can be open to the charge of sexual harassment. We vehemently condemn such acts. AFTA-CU strongly recommends that: * Senior students stop ragging first-year students, * First-year hostel students stop ragging first-year non-hostel students * First year students take the initiative to voice their anti-ragging sentiments openly in order to bring an end to ragging.

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