Eliminating violence in universities: Letter to presidential candidates from SLMA Expert Committee

Thursday, 14 November 2019 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}



  • A set of recommendations for immediate action by the new President of Sri Lanka

This letter is a follow up to that sent to all presidential candidates, highlighting the cruel and extreme forms of physical, sexual and emotional violence that is currently taking place in all universities in Sri Lanka, in the guise of ‘ragging’. This situation is reflective of the degree of violence, hate and abuse we see escalating in our society. Unless we address this immediately, the consequences to society and to our younger generations will be very grave.

For instance, when there’s evidence that some male students are tortured by crushing their testicles by slamming them inside a drawer or when students are made to strip naked and to lie on top of each other, packed like sardines in a confined space, one could only conclude that we are in the midst of a serious and tragic societal crisis.

The SLMA views this situation within universities as grave and threatening.

Soon, one of you will be elected as the new President of Sri Lanka. In that event, we urge you to take immediate action with regard to the following issues:

1. Publicly condemn and renounce all forms of physical, sexual and emotional violence in universities and genuinely pledge to take remedial action no sooner you take office.

2.  Invite all Vice Chancellors with Deans, for a discussion on the atrocities taking place in their universities. Describe with pictorial and other evidence, this extremely disturbing situation. Emphasise the absolute importance of being responsible and accountable for violence within their respective institution.

3.Develop a scheme of rewards for university academics, Deans and Vice Chancellors who pro-actively denounce violence in any form. And, who demonstrably take action to eliminate violence, to be rewarded academically and nationally through honours or other mechanisms. Whereas for academics who are complacent whilst knowing that violence continues to be meted out to freshers, appropriate action to be taken. This mechanism to be woven into the academics’ key performance indicators (KPIs) structure with necessary penalties as well as rewards.

4. Ensure that the authorities overseeing university education (including the Minister, Deputy Minister, and the UGC) are fully empowered to initiate inquiries and to take violence related disciplinary processes to completion, so that they can work with the Police and all relevant institutions without any form of interference – political or otherwise.

5.Enable the development of a robust Victim Protection System and a Witness Protection System so that complaints can be made by those affected, sans fear of intimidation.

As a responsible and sensitive professional association, the SLMA urges you to take this matter very seriously and to act with utmost urgency.

 SLMA President 

Dr. Anula Wijesundere                                      

Expert Committee on Elimination of Violence in University Chairperson Dr. Tara 

de Mel

Dr. Ruvaiz Haniffa                                              

Dr. Kalyani Guruge

Prof. Piyanjali 

de Zoysa                                         

Dr. Aruni Samarakoon  

Dr.Enoka Wikramasinghe