I have been a Doctor in Sri Lanka and overseas for the past 49 years and I have always detested and condemned the despicable practice of ragging in our Universities. Sadly, since my university days ragging has become even more dastardly resulting in serious physical and psychological injury to some victims.
On January 2, 2012 the Divayina reported a heart-rending story of ragging in the Ruhuna University where a 21 year old female student fell during ragging and suffered a spinal injury. She was hospitalised and whether she will recover fully is yet to be seen. She is from a poor family and hoped that a university degree would increase her employment prospects and thereby help her family. Her dream may never be realised.
Two years ago my grand-nephew, a medical student in the Peradeniya Faculty, was assaulted by a few pro-raggers because he joined an anti-ragging group. He suffered a broken nose and facial lacerations which needed surgery. He still has problems with his nose and the scars on his face will be a permanent reminder of his ordeal.
In 1995 a nephew of mine (now an architect) and his batch mates were ragged at the Moratuwa Campus for three months. They were forced to crawl on their knees from the ground floor to the fourth floor almost daily and stay crouched under chairs when there were no lecturers around. Raggers used foul language often and on the last day of ragging the victims were barred from urinating for several hours.
Subsequently that nephew’s younger brother refused to go to University because he was terrified of ragging and there is no doubt there are others like him missing out on university education for the same reason.
There are many other horror stories of humiliation and hurt, physical and mental.
Sadly, after burning midnight oil for years students in our country begin University life not with great elation but in fear of their fate at the hands of some sadistic senior rascals during the first few months. Their parents are equally apprehensive and anxious but helpless.
Current anti-ragging measures are obviously inadequate and I make an earnest appeal to the University authorities, S. B. Dissanayake and the Hon Mahinda Rajapaksa to take stern steps anew to deal with the culprits mercilessly and end ragging for good. Expulsion and not suspension, should be the minimum punishment.
Let’s hope that some day every university will be a happy place for every student from day one.
W. Y. Rambukwelle