Worrying institutional culture of ragging must end

Published: 00:05, Feb 14,2018 | Updated: 00:12, Feb 14,2018

 
 

THE situation of ragging or abuse, humiliation or harassment of new entrants or junior students by their seniors in universities is worsening. It is often alleged that ragging is the worst in Jahangirnagar University. Stories doing the rounds on social networking sites with accounts of recent victims of ragging prove that the allegations are not unfounded. The extent of abuse is so severe that a student in Jahangirnagar University has lost his immediate memory. The victim was physically and mentally tortured for more than 12 hours on Friday by second-semester students. Following his torture, he developed symptoms of psychiatric disorder and is now in hospital. While his case has garnered attention because of the severity of torture, other students of the university told the media that they were facing ragging in all forms and nearly everywhere on the campus. The reported mental and physical abuse of new entrants is a clear indication that the university administration took little or no action to contain widespread ‘ragging’.
Even though, incidents of ragging in Jahangirnagar University have gained public attention, it is not an uncommon practice in other public universities. Earlier, many cases of ragging in Shahjalal University of Science and Technology were reported. Isolated cases of ragging are reportedly occurring in renowned private universities as well. Progressive students’ bodies at different universities are urging university administration to take stern action against such practice that leaves new entrants scarred for life. Neither in Jahangirnagar University nor in other campuses had administration so far taken any clear position on the matter. Their actions are limited to forming investigation committees on particular cases, rather than dealing with the problem at the institutional level. Judging from the responses of the administration, it seems that they still treat ragging as a trivial matter between the senior and the junior. Such institutional culture of ragging emerged over the years. It would probably, therefore, be hard to pinpoint one contributing factor. Conscientious teachers, however, demanded that taking control of the hall administration from the hands of the Chhatra League, the ruling Awami League’s student organisation, or alike would be the first step to make a difference. Considering that most public university students today come from middle-class or lower middle-class families with no option but to live in the common room of their residential halls until seats are allotted, they become easy prey.
It is high time that the university administrations had a zero-tolerance policy against the practice of ragging. As suggested by many teachers, the administration should abandon their partisan politics and take action to restore their authority and control over the residential halls. In order to ensure that anti-ragging policies are worked out and implemented on campuses, the University Grants Commission should also consider imposing regulations on universities to eliminate ragging. Meanwhile, students at large should continue to mobilise and create awareness of this worrying and dangerous institutional culture of ragging.

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