Dark Clouds Over Jaffna University: The Perilous VC Election?

Anonymous Death Threats Undermine the Reputation of a Respected Institution

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University of Jaffna [ File Photo: Sri Lanka Guardian]


In a shocking turn of events, the University of Jaffna, a renowned institution of higher education, finds itself entangled in a web of fear and intimidation. Anonymous phone messages, bearing death threats, have begun targeting members of the assembly set to convene on July 12th, with the critical task of selecting a new vice-chancellor. Such abhorrent acts not only compromise the safety and well-being of those involved but also pose a grave threat to the longstanding reputation of this esteemed academic institution.

It is distressing to discover that certain callers are claiming to be intelligence officers, boldly attempting to manipulate the selection process by advocating for a specific candidate. However, we have received reliable information indicating that none of the security officers were involved in such dubious acts. Nonetheless, moderate communities in the area believe that certain political individuals disguised as security officers are engaged in these actions. These sinister messages carry an implicit insidious suggestion that failure to comply may lead to dire consequences. The blatant coercion and interference in the university’s internal affairs by these political individuals represent a severe violation of democratic principles and academic autonomy.

The selection of a vice-chancellor is a pivotal decision that shapes the future trajectory of any university. It demands a thorough and impartial evaluation of the candidates, free from external pressures or ulterior motives. The fact that four individuals have successfully reached the final stage and gained approval from the University Grants Commission underscores their qualifications and the rigorous screening process they underwent. Yet, the shadow of these threats hangs over the proceedings, casting doubt on the integrity and fairness of the selection process.

The gravity of the situation becomes apparent when we consider the response, or rather the lack thereof, from the university authorities and the members involved. Astonishingly, no official complaints have been lodged with the security forces despite the alarming nature of the threats. This not only reflects a failure to recognize the urgency of the situation but also raises concerns about the vulnerability of the university’s governance structure.

Jaffna University has long been a symbol of academic excellence and cultural diversity, fostering an environment where knowledge thrives and innovation flourishes. The current events, however, risk tarnishing the institution’s hard-earned reputation. The international community recognizes the university as a bastion of learning, and any harm inflicted upon it reverberates far beyond the borders of Sri Lanka. The consequences of allowing such threats to go unaddressed are dire, potentially leading to the erosion of trust among stakeholders, faculty, and students.

The responsibility for safeguarding the principles of democracy, academic freedom, and institutional integrity rests not only with the university authorities but also with the entire Sri Lankan society. It is imperative that immediate action be taken to address this appalling situation. Law enforcement agencies must thoroughly investigate these death threats and bring the perpetrators to justice. Moreover, the university administration must ensure the safety of the assembly members and support their right to exercise their academic judgment without fear or favor.

In these challenging times, it is essential for the University of Jaffna to stand united against the forces that seek to undermine its democratic values and academic traditions. The university community, alumni, and concerned citizens must rally together, demanding accountability, transparency, and the restoration of the institution’s reputation. Only through collective action and a steadfast commitment to upholding the principles of academic excellence can Jaffna University triumph over this dark chapter in its history and emerge stronger than ever before.

Let us not allow the voices of fear and intimidation to prevail. Together, we can ensure that the University of Jaffna remains a beacon of knowledge, enlightenment, and progress, unwavering in its pursuit of truth and justice.

Sri Lanka Guardian

The Sri Lanka Guardian is an online web portal founded in August 2007 by a group of concerned Sri Lankan citizens including journalists, activists, academics and retired civil servants. We are independent and non-profit. Email: editor@slguardian.org

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