All of those who have been reading this blog for a while would have sensed that this is the space I use for my salvation, the space I use to present even the ‘thorny’ issues in life (like homosexuality and abbreviating words!) in a light-hearted way. Although I was worried at the beginning I would fizzle after blogging for a while, today I’m happy that I have been able to yield some rewards out of this. Some bloggers found what I write to be entertaining and My Business Addiction once awarded me the ‘prestigious stylish blogger award’ in her blog saying ‘She’s just rambling when she says she’s demented. Very cool blogger and book-lover. Young and funny with the whole world in front of her for the taking!’ And I also made new friends in blog-sphere, who by their insightful and interesting comments on what I write have encouraged me to go on rambling!
Even though now you might be thinking “Ah, she is going to write a ‘thank you’ note today”, well, apparently, I’m not. All those lines were to help me with an opening warning, that I’m going to take my serious mask out of my safe, wear it and try to come up with this post in a different tone today. I’m sure that many people would have a discernment on the subject I’m going to write. Even if you don’t, you could still refer to this article which appeared in Daily News of today, a premier news paper in Sri Lanka, and then start reading mine. And since I’ve not written a single ‘serious essay’ after I was 15, before reading this please send all your luck on my way!
AND get ready to be choked up! 😉 😀
This post, I will use to address the issues that have forced me to the front-lines of student activism.
I’m not a student union hater and in fact the credit for bringing the Applied Sciences faculty of Sabaragamuwa University of Sri Lanka to the main university premises at Belihul Oya, from far away Buttala goes to the student union.
I had to become a student activist accidentally because I believe in justice, because I reckon the imposing-mob-rule status quo of the student union to be unjust, and because I feel that protecting it will do more harm than good to the student community as a whole.
In many instances I have come off as an anti-ragging crusader, but I’m not. I just don’t believe in preserving ragging as practiced in Sri Lankan universities at present, if it is a university sub culture that is used to oppress the first year students, if that is a sub culture used as a cover to physically abuse them, to disempower them, to subjugate them and to silence them, because then that is unacceptable to me.
In some cases I come off as an anti-university sub culture campaigner, but I’m not. I just don’t believe the students should suffer just so a sub culture can go on. If certain elements of a sub culture create stress among students, I say we need to get rid of those elements; the elements that promote physical and verbal abuse and require the victims to accept, endure and excuse such behaviour.
Often I have been labeled as a rabid student union demolisher, and I say it’s just a matter of opinion. I’m devoted to the cause of our education, empowerment of students and emancipation from the student union hegemony by the simple means at my disposal such as rejection of what is not acceptable and disobedience to what is not fair. Having recognized the student union as an institution that underpins and legitimizes the status quo in which majority of the students are oppressed and subdued, I believe it’s time to question, confront and reject some ideologies of the student union.
And every now and then some people come up with the revelation that my problem is that I’m a born metropolitan(!), and therefore incapable of relating myself to the prevailing ‘university sub-culture’. The way I have been brought up and educated, there is nothing sub-cultural in accepting all the silly dictates passed by one batch to the next without subjecting them to any scrutiny. My sensibilities tell me that even a sub-culture should be dynamic enough to serve the students and not to enslave them.
The way I see it, the Sri Lankan university student has nothing but him/herself. Most of our identities have been destroyed by the inferior state dictates the student unions have imposed on us. And because of it, I say at some point the student has to decide whether to stand up for his/her rights as an individual or merely become a member of an aimless herd and settle to keep the student union running according to their personal (most of the times) agendas.
And I know that the student unions rarely encourage the students a pursuit of an individual expression. Instead they teach that the interests of the collective supersede the desires of the individual. But let us not forget that these individuals could be having limitations, needs and desires of their own which often get overlooked in the broad picture, and sometimes if those individuals are given the opportunity to voice their ideas, that they might even outnumber the said ‘greater number’. The way I see it, that so-called ‘greater good’ which often make the students cede all their needs and desires to student union, just because anything else is considered to be ‘unsub-cultural’, is highly damaging and nocent.
Yet, in any case, the emancipation of the students can only begin in their minds. It’s up to them to reverse the deeply embedded beliefs of their inferiority and fathom the shallowness in abiding to ‘university sub-culture’ in every vital decision they make which could affect their future.
To conclude this I’ll add that some people believe its impossible for the deep-rooted student union status quo and certain aspects of university sub-culture to change. Nevertheless, I think its impossible for it to remain the same as the world is changing and we are changing with barricades and limitations being broken everywhere.