Freshers and Seniors

Our country seems to have recently been wrecked by the death of a student at a local college. The primary cause of death is supposedly the treatment that the student received as part of a ‘ragging’ exercise by the senior students. As a result of which, there was plenty of outrage with government and university officials coming out to officially ban ‘ragging’ exercises at universities ahead of the beginning of the academic year for a lot of students.

My opinion on the matter – bad move. Banning the exercise will never stop it. Ragging is often a rite of passage that everyone goes through at university. If done correctly, it can build valuable bonds between seniors and juniors. However, when taken to the extreme, it can definitely cause physical and psychological harm, possibly leading to death either directly or indirectly associated with the activity.

Banning the time tested activity is just going to drive it underground, making it far more difficult to regulate and control. What should have been done is to ban extreme ragging and release guidelines on the limits of the activity. For example, any form of direct physical contact should be banned and any senior who assaults any junior should be caught and charged to the full extent of the law for causing grievous bodily harm.

Students may think that they were put through hell during their freshers’ week – until it becomes their turn to organise things. I missed quite a lot of sleep during my orientation week, and got quite pretty grumpy because of it. We were also put through a lot of seemingly stupid and dumb activities. We also had to put up with inane requests from our seniors to get things done.

However, when I became a senior, I lost even more sleep when I was involved in organising fresher activities – we had to make sure that the freshers were back to their rooms and wake up early to prep the things organised for the next day. Also, we spent weeks in advance, sacrificing our semester breaks to get things ready for welcoming the freshers. Trying to torture freshers in the nicest way is not easy to do without advance planning.

Also, because I was involved in organising these activities, and making the juniors do all sorts of silly things that they did not want to, I became quite well liked. Until today, I still sometimes run into people randomly at work or while shopping and have them come up to ask me if I was Shawn, their senior at university. While I have to politely tell them that I cannot recall their names, I can still recognise their faces. We end up having an amiable chat after that.

Now, looking back at my university days, I dare to say that I look back at things nostalgically. My history with ragging goes way back to secondary school, where I can still remember doing a hundred push-ups when I pissed off some of my seniors. I can still remember the song Buli, Buli, Buli that we were all forced to sing along doing various disgusting things. The coolest thing that my seniors ever did was to enact a serious ghost story that was so good, that some people pissed their pants.

Ah, those were the days.

Published by

Shawn Tan

Chip Doctor, Chartered Engineer, Entrepreneur, Law Graduate.

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