Friday, July 12, 2013

FUTA-Colombo VC showdown on the cards

The Island, 11/07/2013

When all doors are closed
Colombo University authorities yesterday denied the Federation of University Teachers Associations (FUTA) permission to hold a media briefing within the university premises. Teachers addressed the media near the university’s Stanely Wijesundera Mawatha entrance. (L) FUTA President Dr. Nirmal Ranjith Dewasiri and Secretary Dr. Rohan Fernando carrying a table for the meeting. (R) Dr. Dewasiri, flanked by Dr. Fernando and senior lecturer Vivimarie Vandapootan, addressing the media. (Pics. By Nilantha Madurawala)
by Dasun Edirisinghe

The Federation of University Teachers Associations (FUTA) yesterday accused the Colombo University administration of violating an agreement it had entered into with university authorities last year before calling its 100-day strike.

FUTA members held a media briefing near the Colombo University’s Stanley Wijesundera Mawatha entrance as the university administration prevented media personnel from entering the university premises to attend a press briefing scheduled to be held at the Faculty Club. Security officials flanked by marshalls stopped journalists and their vehicles at the gate and did not allow them to proceed.

FUTA President Dr. Nirmal Ranjith Dewasiri told the media that there had been a circular, No. 890, of the University Grants Commission, earlier issued banning the media from entering universities, but it had been withdrawn by the UGC after the FUTA strike last year.

"In the agreement between the FUTA and the government signed by Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa, it was agreed to withdraw circular No. 890," the FUTA chief said, adding that the UGC had withdrawn it last year.

Dr. Dewasiri alleged that the Colombo University Vice Chancellor had ordered the security personal to stop media personnel. FUTA condemned such action, he added.

He said that he was ready for any disciplinary inquiry if the university administration decided to hold an inquiry against him for holding yesterday’s media conference. "We oppose the appointment of Colombo University’s present VC as it is unethical for him to be in the post when his wife is heading the UGC," Dr. Dewasiri said, adding that he had now started to harass the academics in retaliation.

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