The Centre for Gender Equality of the University Grants Commission said it would follow up with University authorities on action taken with regard to complaints of ragging revealed by the Commission to vice-chancellors.
The Commission has created a portal on their website (http://eugc.ac.lk/rg/), an online mechanism which will act as a central place to report and lodge complaints pertaining to incidents of ragging and other forms of violence including blackmail, bullying, harassment and intimidation.
Students who are victims, peers or staff-members who are aware of ragging incidents can submit a notice or complaint to the Commission which was set up in January this year.
Universities are autonomous bodies when it comes to dealing with ragging. They have all the required guidelines within including by-laws and their own rules and regulations on how to deal with perpetrators.
Previously, complaints of ragging could be made only within the Universities to certain officials such as the vice-chancellors, department heads, deans of faculties and certain officers such as counsellors.
The Prohibition of Ragging and Other Forms of Violence in Educational Institutions Act No 20 of 1998 made the issue a national affair and within Universities, circulars were issued in relation to the matter.
Punishments meted will be based on the gravity of the offence. Police investigation evidences too will be used to assist in offence assessment. The commission will ensure secrey of complaints to prevent future intimidation or harassment. Counselling will be another tool the commission will be looking at. Upon receiving a complaint, the Commission will immediately contact the relevant university’s vice-chancellor, submit the complaint and do the necessary follow-ups.
“The university too will take an interest (through their own councils, authorities and bodies) and update the Commission on the progress”, a member of the Commission’s Standing Committee on Gender Equality said.
The latest developments come in the wake of 15 students attached to the Faculty of Agriculture of the University of Peradeniya being charged by police with ragging eight freshers in an abandoned house by stripping them naked and assaulting them.
The victims were subsequently hospitalized for treatment. The suspects have been remanded by the Kandy Acting Magistrate Rangani Gamage till March 2.
Vice-Chancellor of the University, Prof. Upul Dissanayake has taken action to suspend the perpetrators.