Jennings issue: Campus still in chaos

Posted on October 29, 2007  /  1 Comments

The suspended students of the Peradeniya University were given bail on Friday after the University administration said in writing it would not ‘push’ the Police to proceed with the case against them though another blow for the students seems to be on the way.

Peradeniya University Registrar Ranjith de Alwis told The Sunday Times that the Police may file another case in courts acting on the complaint made by the University administration regarding the detention of the Deputy Vice Chancellor, Registrar and three Faculty Deans in the Senate House on October 23 by the students.“We made the complaint to the Police so they may file another case in courts on that complaint,” he said.

Mr. de Alwis said the case against the students was filed under the ragging and other forms of violence in High Education Institutes Act which was introduced in 1998. According to this Act, if the suspended students were found guilty, they could be sentenced to a minimum of three years rigorous imprisonment.

“We have no authority to withdraw a case filed by the Police in the Magistrate Courts so a letter was given to the students stating we would not call for further inquiry in regard to the complaint made against them for removing the name board of the hostel,” he said. However, though both students and the University administration claim an agreement on the dispute over naming the hostel, a conflict of ideas was yet to be solved.

Inter University Students’ Front convener Duminda Nagamuwa said the administration agreed to withdraw the court case without putting the students into further difficulties but also agreed not to name the hostel.He said the students’ union gave the name board back to the administration because there was no purpose in keeping it after coming to an agreement not to name the hostel after anyone.

“The students and the administration agreed not to name the hostel two days before its opening ceremony after some differences arose as the students wanted to name it after a union leader who had died. However, the administration named it after Sir Ivor Jennings the day before the opening ceremony without any notice,” he said.

He said the students had nothing against naming the hostel after the founder of the University and its first Vice-Chancellor, Sir Ivor Jennings as they respected his concepts.“But to students, he is just a name as the University had not commemorated him even once a year so far or done any thing to remember him,” he said.

Vice Chancellor Prof. Harischandra Abeygunawardena said the University Council decided to name the hostel after Sir Ivor Jennings two years ago and no one could change that decision.“Only the Council can reverse a Council decision and as is has not been done, the hostel will be named after Sir Jennings,” he said.

The VC added that he cannot do anything to withdraw the case filed in courts against the students as it has gone out of his control.“The students can present their case to court when it is called,” he said.

By Isuri Kaviratne

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