Anti-intellectual behaviour of university students:
Ragging, irreparable damage to the mind
Continued from yesterday
These sessions are repeated in the morning and evening daily for
almost six to seven weeks which constitute about half the 15 weeks of
the first academic semester or 5.8 percent of the entire duration of
stay in the University for a student following a four year special
The intensity of these sessions not only create physical fatigue but
also mental exhaustion often leading to a few students collapsing and
having to admit to the University Health Center. These are the busiest
times for the University Health Center treating students for injuries,
broken bones and mental trauma.
While a few students has to be admitted to Government hospitals for
further treatment, some students leave the University forever not being
able to cope with the agony of the welcome given by the student union
and their leaders.
: Gateway to intellectual world
The intimidation and terror tactics of the student union is
immediately effective. While all these heinous crimes are being
committed and witnessed by everyone, none of the victims ever complain
against the raggers for fear of reprisal.
Even when they complain as a first reaction, they often withdraw
their complaints subsequently because of the continuing threat and
intimidation. Occasionally, a few students get caught in the act of
ragging and are punished. Then the very student union organises
protests, rallies, and boycotting of lectures with the support of the
first year students to get the punishment revoked using the same
arguments they made in the “sessions” that the University administrators
are anti-student and punishment imposed are unjust and cruel!
In the evenings at the residential halls, a more violent and ugly
form of ragging characterized by intimidation and physical violence is
inflicted upon those who are suspected of being a challenge to the
union. The victims of these violence too end up in the University Health
Center but they too refrain from making any formal complaint for the
fear of further violent reprisal.
Further, the student union use the ragging season to mobilize the
first years to participate in various agitations and protests organized
by the JVP’s IUFSU mostly in Colombo. There is a close temporal
correlation between the ragging season and the mass demonstrations by
University students. Under pressure, intimidation and threat, the first
year students are made to face the frontal assaults in these
The end product of these ragging sessions is an irreversible and
irreparable damage to the intellectual mind of the new student and the
intellectual environment of the University.
These students cannot come out of this anti-intellectual brainwash
and mental depression and anger and hopelessness even after ragging is
As a result vast majority of them become disinterested souls merely
spending their time at the University. The union has won the day. Within
less than seven weeks they have transformed a group of young men and
women who had the potential to turn the world into stooges who could
care less about the world, and worse, about themselves.
The student union will survive yet another year triumphantly as the
sole representative of the students. Thus every year, the University
loses completely and irrevocably and failed to produce the graduate
profiled by Sir Ivor Jennings.
One graduate on the last day of her university summarized in one word
when asked what she thought about her four years at the University;
aparade (in vain or it is a waste).
Opposing democracy in student politics
One of the main strategies of the student union to protect and
perpetuate their hold among the student body is to eliminate any
opposition at the student council elections if they are allowed to be
held. As the highest seat of learning and being populated by supposedly
the most educated group of citizens of the country, the University
politics should be an example on good practice of democracy to the
nation. Democracy requires and thrives on agreeing to disagree on the
one hand and, accepting the decisions of the majority on the other,
however imperfect the representative democratic system is. Democracy has
invented the election as the means of electing the representatives to
govern the society.
The election provides the opportunity for the society to put forward
alternative views, strategies, and ideologies and to convince the larger
masses of their merits. It is up to the masses to elect who they want.
For this to happen, elections should be held regularly conducted within
a peaceful environment. The only power that should be used in an
election is the power of persuasion.
Now, what happens at the student elections at the Universities? The
JVP Student Union and its leaders have already decided that only their
union should prevail as the “sole representatives” of the students. They
do not hesitate to take every measure deemed fit including violence and
terror to achieve this goal. Thus from day one, they use intimidation
and terror to prevent any other group of students from appearing as a
potential contestant for the student union elections. They have
successfully prevented any other group of students from even handing
over the nominations for the student elections.
Their terror tactics have become so successful that in the Faculty of
Arts at the University of Peradeniya, the union thus have come to power
uncontested over a decade now.
Thus, the union terror and intimidation has denied the university
students, the most basic democratic right of voting and participating in
electing representatives of their choice.
The only choice given to the students by the union is either elect
them or face consequences.
This reminiscent of the elections under the Communist led Soviet
Union and the LTTE controlled areas where the winner of the elections
has been pre- decided. No citizen tries to defy them for fear of extreme
repercussions. The only two differences between the LTTE terrorists in
Kilinochchi and the JVP affiliated unions in the University is that
former has declared gun power and the latter is enjoying its supremacy
of the University which is supported by innocent Sri Lankan tax payers.
Even during inter-election period the union maintain its iron fist
over students’ politics in a subtle and effective manner by continuous
use of intimidation and infiltration into the intellectual environment
of the University.
Gone are the days when there were genuine discipline based societies
whose objective was to promote the discipline and to broad-base the
students’ knowledge by exposing them to non-lecture room activities.
Student leaders have ensured office-bearers of these discipline based
unions will only be JVP sympathizers.
Thus, these discipline based societies are also playing to the tune
of the student union and their activities just like national level JVP
events are dominated by form and appearance - lot of rhetoric and
appearance, i.e., decorations, colours, banners, flags, posters, display
hardly any substance or depth. The student union has extended its power
over the social and intellectual life of students to the extent, no
social (e.g. musical or drama) or academic (e.g. special lectures) event
can be organized without the prior approval and the consent of the
To be continued
The writter is attached to the Department of Geography, University of