Representational Image: University students in one of state universities in Sri Lanka are engaging in ragging [ Photo: Special Arrangement]

Sri Lanka: University Dons Flag Against Ragging

The Committee of the Vice Chancellors and Directors requested the civil society to understand that ragging has been in existence in Sri Lankan universities for 70 years, with damaging consequences.

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The Committee of the Vice Chancellors and Directors (CVCD) notes with concern the recent spate of incidents of ragging and student indiscipline that have occurred with the resumption of on-site academic activities in the state universities. The CVCD categorically condemns all forms of ragging in educational institutions of Sri Lanka. None of the Vice-Chancellors condone or support ragging, or act to protect perpetrators.

However, the CVCD believes that ragging is a complex issue that needs many interventions for it to be eliminated from Sri Lankan Universities. It must be recognized that it is carried out in a novel, sophisticated manner, using technology, with the collective power of the student groups backed by certain political elements. It uses a network of individuals and starts even before the students enter the universities and continues for a long period thereafter.

The CVCD has also noted the introduction of cyber ragging, in addition to physical, mental, or sexual forms. These complexities require a comprehensive strategy planned by Universities, law enforcement authorities, political parties, and media with the support of civil society for its prevention and elimination. There needs to be a strong movement against ragging in civil society to encourage the new entrants to universities, and their parents, to stand up to organized groups of student perpetrators motivated by political intentions.

The universities are faced with multiple issues in their efforts to eliminate ragging. These include the lack of legitimate complaints with evidence or clues for identification of perpetrators; lack of a robust system for protection of victims and witnesses; inaction of law enforcement authorities to fully implement the provisions of the Act No 20 of 1998 on prevention of ragging, and slowness of the judicial and disciplinary procedures. In many instances, dissemination of one-sided information obtained from highly vocal student movements opposes the university administration in taking action against the student perpetrators of ragging. It is common for protests to be stage-managed in front of University Grants Commission or the Ministry of Education to pressurize authorities to withdraw or mitigate punishments that have been handed to perpetrators after due process.

In the past, there have been instances where instead of supporting the VCs and University authorities in taking stern actions against ragging and other acts of student indiscipline and violence, undue influences have been made by external forces to the legal and disciplinary processes. This aims to protect perpetrators with scant regard to the rights of the victims and the harm caused to them. The CVCD views with grave concern the fact that perpetrators abuse provisions in the legal system and exploit the facility of taking their complaints to the Human Rights Commission. This occasionally escalates to severe harassment of VCs and university authorities.

The CVCD requests the civil society to understand that ragging has been in existence in Sri Lankan universities for 70 years, with damaging consequences. The CVCD notes that the recent reduction or near-elimination of ragging as has occurred in some universities, was the result of active intervention by university authorities led by the VCs, who risked their lives and positions.

Hence, the CVCD reiterates its commitment to fight ragging in the Universities and to eliminate it. In this endeavour, it wishes to seek the support of the media, civil society, and the Government of Sri Lanka without which, this will be impossible to achieve.

  1. Prof. Nilanthi de Silva (Chairperson), Vice Chancellor/University of Kelaniya
  2. Prof. H.D.Karunaratne, Vice Chancellor/University of Colombo
  3. Prof. M.D.Lamawansa, Vice Chancellor/University of Peradeniya
  4. Prof. Sudantha Liyanage, Vice Chancellor/University of Sri Jayewardenepura
  5. Prof. N.D. Gunawardena, Vice Chancellor/University of Moratuwa
  6. Prof. Sujeewa Amarasena, Vice Chancellor/University of Ruhuna
  7. Prof. S. Srisatkunarajah, Vice Chancellor/University of Jaffna
  8. Prof. P.M.C. Thilakerathne, Vice Chancellor/Open University of Sri Lanka
  9. Prof G.A.S Ginigaddara, Vice Chancellor/Rajarata University of Sri Lanka
  10. Prof. J.L. Ratnasekera, Vice Chancellor/Uva Wellassa University
  11. Prof. V.Kanagasingam, Vice Chancellor/Eastern University, Sri Lanka
  12. Prof. A. Rameez, Vice Chancellor/South Eastern University of Sri Lanka
  13. Prof. Udaya Rathnayake, Vice Chancellor/Sabaragamuwa University of Sri Lanka
  14. Prof. Udith K. Jayasinghe, Vice Chancellor/Wayamba University of Sri Lanka
  15. Prof. Ranjana W. Seneviratne, Vice Chancellor/Gampaha Wickramarachchi University of Indigenous Medicine.
  16. Prof. T. Mangaleswaran, Vice Chancellor/University of Vavuniya
  17. Prof. Rohana P. Mahaliyanaarachchi, Vice Chancellor/University of the Visual & Performing Arts
  18. Ven. Prof. Neluwe Sumanawansa Thero, Ven. Vice Chancellor/Buddhist and Pali University of Sri Lanka
  19. Ven. Prof. Kanattegoda Saddarathana Nayaka Thero, Ven. Vice Chancellor/Bhiksu University of Sri Lanka
  20. Major General Milinda Peiris, Vice Chancellor/General Sir John Kotelawala Defence University
  21. Prof. Ranjith Premalal de Silva, Vice Chancellor/University of Vocational Technology
  22. Prof. Wasantha Rathnayaka, Vice Chancellor/Ocean University of Sri Lanka
  23. Dr. Prathiba Mahanamahewa, Rector/Sri Palee Campus, University of Colombo
  24. Prof. Chandravathany G. Devadason, Rector / Trincomalee Campus
  25. Major General Robin Jayasuriya, Rector/Southern Campus, General Sir John Kotelawala Defence University

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