Nina*, 18, a first-year student at Kathmandu University (KU) and her classmates were ordered by her seniors to dance to the tune of Bollywood item songs “Munni badnaam hui” and “Sheelaki Jawani.”
This was very humiliating since a huge group of boys and girls were watching and making harassing remarks. A few freshers ended up crying but did not dare resist it or tell the management about it, fearing backlash.
Ragging or hazing is a practice in educational institutions that involves existing students baiting or bullying new students. It often takes a malignant form wherein the newcomers may be subjected to psychological or physical torture that adversely affect the physique or psyche of a fresher or a junior student.
Though colleges in Kathmandu seem to provide a secure environment for students, there exists some form of ragging in some universities. In some cases, newcomers feel psychological uneasiness due to public humiliation through which senior students seemingly take pleasure, at times resulting in rivalries.
However, there are those who argue that ragging can be viewed as an icebreaking activity that opens up communication among the freshers and the old students which could be beneficial.
“Our seniors made us sing and dance on the second day of our entry to the hostel. We did it in groups, so we had fun and also got the opportunity to get to know our seniors and vice versa,” says Sonali, 18, a resident of Chitwan who recently shifted to Four-Sisters Girls Hostel in Baneshwor to pursue her further studies in Kathmandu. “Basically, we enjoyed and mingled with the seniors,” she adds.
Merely making new students dance or sing and perform innocent gigs in groups can be taken as a light form of amusement but in case the pupils are unwilling to do so and are forced to, it is sheer humiliation.
This may turn out to be nasty as it could lower the victim’s spirit in front of peers and discourage them from befriending their seniors.
Nina of KU says that they were told during their orientation program by the teachers that ragging has been banned at KU yet it may happen to some degree and were thus instructed by the teachers to inform them of such incidents.
“The hostel seniors invited us to a room and notified us of how they were bullied when they were freshers and cautioned us. They said it was not ragging but just interaction. We were nervous facing the seniors at college so when they approached us and asked us to sing and dance we simply did it despite being reluctant. They also mad us do their assignments, called gross in their slang.”
Gross refers to unfinished assignments, usually practical subject drawings. Adds Nina, saying, “We understand that we have to befriend them because we have to spend the nextt four or five years of our college life with them and perhaps they’ll help us with study materials in future. So we just endure it.”
Higher education institutions of Kathmandu, in general, have nothing in writing on ragging issues but internally it occurs in the form of stray incidences and some teachers seem to acknowledge it and in some instances support it as well to some extent.
However, many teachers are unaware and some try to assert that such things do not exist, keeping in mind the reputation of their institution.
Megh Raj Sakya, an administrative official of Kathmandu University, says, “Our code of conduct doesn’t allow ragging nor have we been alerted about on any such cases till date. I personally believe that asking the juniors to introduce themselves is completely acceptable but incidents of forcing them to certain activities aren’t acceptable and our management committee will take action if reported.”
The Institute of Medicine at Maharajgunj and Kathmandu University have anti-ragging groups who oppose ragging on juniors.
“I didn’t face any bullies because I have many friends from senior batches. Therefore, my colleagues were lightly harassed and not forced when they didn’t want to amuse the raggers,” says Ashok, a first-year student at the Institute of Medicine (IOM).
To sum up, if all students focus on studies rather than show fake dominance on their juniors through ragging, the time spent in university can get a share as one of the best memories in people’s lives.
A student’s personality is shaped up and perceptions are further developed through the relationships they form during college years. Therefore, a student should act responsibly and institutions also need to address raggers.
The names of students have been changed for protection.
(Source: Republica Nepal)