Anti-intellectual behaviour of university students:
Ragging and ‘teaching sessions’
During this time, the student union and its leaders congregate to
plan for ragging and they also invite hardcore supporters several days,
sometime weeks before the beginning of the term.
Together they organize a series of parallel activities to be carried
out often before and after the official working times on weekends and
sometimes during official working times sabotaging the activities
organized by the University.
These student leaders and supporters spend days putting up colourful
posters with beautiful words of welcome, traditional pandals, and flags
and all kinds of cutouts depicting the fighting spirit of ‘exploited and
enter the university to climb the intellectual ladder
It is common during this period to see these university students who
supposed to be our future, running up and down the road carrying
‘alawangus’ ‘unabamboos’ and carrying ‘pappa baaldis’ and putting up
posters, climbing trees very similar to political ‘henchaiyyas’
(stooges) during election campaigns. The University library is empty!
On the very first day, when the students come with their parents, the
student union leaders and their group of supporters who later become the
‘rag leaders’ pretend to work hard to welcome them and help them to get
about although neither their presence nor their help is needed or
required as the University authorities have made all arrangements.
At the opening ceremony, in the company of the like of
Vice-Chancellor and Dean, the student union president, who is more often
than not intellectually mediocre student, addresses the gathering using
the typical socialist discourse that includes - the political rights of
students, historical sacrifices made by the students leaders for the
student movement, the problems the university students are facing, and
the need to be united to fight for their rights and that the student
union is the “sole representative” of the students. The address is
responded with a planned thundering applause.
With this address the union achieves its legitimacy among the
students and even the parents who tend to believe that the union is
larger than life and even the University.
End of the first day is also the end of the wonderful stay at the
University for the fresh students who come to University with the
potential and hope to climb the intellectual ladder and to win the
That very night, the student union becomes a busybody executing its
sadistic ragging displaying their true hypocritical nature. They go to
all the residential halls and threaten the students to go to specified
places within the University by 7.00 am for “teaching sessions” a
pseudonym for “ragging sessions”.
The students in their hundreds meekly follow these orders clad in the
union-defined uniform of ankle long black skirts, hair breaded, slippers
for girls, and black pants without belts, short sleeve shirts and
slippers for boys.
They are forced to march in formation of two led by the student
leaders to these places which have come to become “exclusive homelands”
of the student unions where even the writ of the University rules and
by-laws do not apply.
In some of these places, for example, the Student Union Office - the
safe heavens of the union leaders and those who student who were
punished and suspended from the University for various offences- the
union leaders and rag leaders, often the same group, stay day and night
It is certainly a very sad scene when the intellectual cream of the
nation clad in demeaning attire are led along the road like a heard of
buffaloes. The student leaders, just as buffalo herders push and force
these students to run if they are slow or late.
Once they are congregated the real ideological indoctrination,
terror, mental and physical harassment starts. For about an hour, the
first years undergo this intimidating exercise of being initiated into
the so called University student subculture as defined by the union
leaders who are essentially anti-intellectual mediocre bunch.
Let me highlight a few of the lessons that are consistently
emphasized directly and indirectly by the student leaders to the first
years who believe literally what is told to them and act on them from
this day onward.
1. The student teacher relationship is portrayed in terms of a class
relationship in which students become the oppressed and the teachers the
oppressors. Thus, students are told not to develop friendly relations
with the teachers who are essentially portrayed as opponents.
2. The University and University life is projected as a misery, full
of hardship and difficulties.
3. Students should not meet the lecturers in their offices outside
the lectures as it will lead to special relationships with the teachers
and that undermines the comradeship of students.
4. Male teachers are generally inclined to sexually abuse female
students and thus under no circumstances a female student should visit
the office of a male lecturer alone. Hence, the practice of two girls
5. Students should not speak in English as it’s the ‘para bhasawa’.
meaning not only a foreign but also oppressive). Generally, the union
leaders are English illiterate.
6. Students should not ask questions in the classes. The stated
reason is that it distracts the lecturer but the real reasons is that it
could lead to some students being noticed for their intellect and this
‘Kepi peneema’ undermines the comradeship of students.
7. The students’ primary responsibility is for the student movement
and to protect the rights and duties of students as defined by the
Some of the rights and duties of students expressly conveyed to the
first years are a.) they should support the existing student council and
not challenge the student leaders, b.) they should never oppose ragging
c.) they should never organize alternative student organizations, d.)
they financially support the activities of and recommended by the
student union including protests, picketing, collecting money. Missing
lectures to support the student movement is not a problem but it is
8. Anyone who opposes the dictates of the students union and its
leaders at any time will be dealt appropriately meaning physical
9. Students should learn to defy and violate the rules of the
University. They should not carry the University ID and if they do it
should not be produced to the authorities. If asked by the authorities,
they should either keep silence - dead silence, and if they have to
speak, they should inform that they are here voluntarily.
10. Student are given nick names (often very demeaning and cannot be
used in public) and only these nicknames can be used in communications.
These aliases are used primarily as a means of preventing the
University authorities identifying the students who are involved in
ragging and other unlawful activities.
11. Students need not neither respect nor cooperate with the
12. Students should lose fear and shame (lajja and baya) to speak
against and defy the authorities and even to engage in unethical
behaviour in a civilized democratic society.
The students are forced to write absolute filth in their own files
and books and loudly utter them in public referring to their own bodies,
their private parts, parents, and teachers and utter them in front of
their fellow students (none of it can be written here as it will break
the laws against obscenity).
13. They should be nationalists valuing the local. This most immature
ideological call for parochialism and rejection globalization clearly
reflect the bankrupt communism.
14. All political leaders of the nation, except those in JVP are
essentially portrayed as anti-student.
The network of student leaders and their supporters station “student
spies” in strategic places for intelligence i.e. to inform whether the
University authorities are approaching.
If University authorities approach, the union leaders and their
supporters transform into a calm, and friendly gathering superficially
but the bodily expressions of the victimized first year students reveal
a different story.
The union led raggers who were noted by the authorities sneak out as
the authorities arrive at the venue.
The union leaders, stay behind, argue with the authorities and
justify the “friendly gathering and acquaintance” taking place!