Ragging is bullying of first year students or freshers by senior students, which usually occurs at the beginning of each academic year in many state Universities in Sri Lanka. This has been deeply embedded in the university subculture in Sri Lanka.
This post is based on research paper by Siri Gamage School of Education, University of New England, Australia.
Who is involved in ragging?
Ragging is primarily done by male seniors on both male and female freshers. There are few instances of female seniors engaging in ragging. There are also many seniors who do not engage in ragging.
Where are the main places of ragging?
Ragging mainly occurs inside student hostels and in private residences outside the university rented by students.
In addition, ragging takes place within university premises, including in locations like outside lecture halls, tutorial rooms, canteens, the library, roads, university garden, parks and in play grounds.
Different forms of ragging
Students are asked to read a book upside down, smoke a cigarette putting the lighted side in the mouth, remove shoes, kneel down, giving repeated movement exercises such as push ups for long time, give a political speech, or even go in front of a female fresher and say something silly. In extreme cases, freshers are forced to cross the railway bridge on foot or to undertake other risky adventures.
Freshers are asked by seniors who engage in ragging to engage in pseudo sexual acts, criticize their parents, professors, the police, politicians, or engage in acts that are against normal etiquette in society, most importantly including removing clothes and displaying personal sides of the body. In the case of males, some sexual activities may also take place.
RAGGING AS STUDENT SUB-CULTURE
Ragging can also be considered as a part of the institutional student sub-culture, and therefore as in other formal institutions, it is part of the normal socialization process. For example, new recruits to the police, armed forces, and para professions in other countries go through some form of ragging. Sub cultures develop in institutions over time in response to particular contextual necessities.
Some argue that it helps to maintain seniority among the student population (as also a way of defying social hierarchies existing beyond the boundaries of the university), or indeed finding suitable partners for romantic relationships can be the precursor to the emergence of ragging in universities.
However the extent to which ragging has evolved from a simple exercise by senior students to establish their power and authority over freshers for individual motives, to a complex phenomenon where the subject of ragging becomes harmful physically and psychologically has to be understood in relation to the broader changes that have occurred in universities over the decades, student mentality, and the prevailing sub culture.
Regrettably, ragging has evolved into a socially, culturally, and perhaps legally unacceptable practice in various campuses.
UGC hotline on ragging
University Grants Commission stated a hotline and a special office has been set up to aid students who have been victims of ragging in universities and other higher educational institutes.
The Commission requests all students to immediately contact the 24-hour hotline 0112- 2123700, in addition to informing university officials and the police if they have been victims of ragging. The special office set up at the University Grants Commission will function on all days from 8.30 am to 4 pm except on government holidays.
Prohibition of Ragging and Other Forms of Violence in Educational Institutions Act No. 20 of 1998 is currently in effect. Those arrested under this Act will be unable to request bail and if charged in courts they can be sentenced to 10 years of rigorous imprisonment.
https://www.ugc.ac.in/page/helpline.aspx (Unfortuntely this website was inactive at the time of this writing (2 July 2019)
Ragging complaint portal at University Grants Commission (UGC)
UGC has set up a web site to report different forms of threat or harassment on campus: ragging, sexual harassment, bullying, sexual or gender based violence, threats and intimidation.
Ragging complaint portal https://eugc.ac.lk/rag/
UGC Emergency Safety App (Anti-Ragging Mobile App)
Ministry of Higher Education has launched an application (App) for mobile devices for state university students to instantly inform the authorities of ragging incidents as a step to eradicate the ragging from universities.
This UGC Emergency Safety app developed by ICTA University Students and Staff members can report incidents to authorities through this mobile app.
However senior students have imposed restriction on freshers that they should not bring their mobile devices during the period of ragging to the Universities.
PSYCHOLOGICAL, SOCIOLOGICAL, AND POLITICAL DIMENSIONS OF RAGGING IN SRI LANKAN
UNIVERSITIES by Siri Gamage, School of Education, University of New England, Australia. Social Affairs. Vol.1 No.7, 13-21, Fall 2017