Ragging someone at university is not funny

Published: December 6, 2014

Anti-ragging rules do some good till the culprits find a way around them and bypass these rules. PHOTO: FILE

“Congratulations! Not only on starting your life at one of the best universities in the world, but on proving that you are the cream of the crop.”

After a brief standing ovation, the opening ceremony ended.

We came walking out of the auditorium as if we didn’t need to wait for the future; we had already become the leaders we came here to be. The opening ceremony was followed by a hi-tea session with snacks where the students discussed how they were going to “utilise” their time now that they had acquired admission into such a prestigious university.

The bittersweet day ended and soon enough it was midnight; we went to our respective hostel rooms to catch up on our sleep so we were prepared for the challenges of tomorrow. It was a few minutes past midnight and I was doing the same thing when I heard a knock on my room door.

I stood around idly for a few minutes, thinking that the person probably knocked on my door by mistake; I didn’t know anyone who would come to my room at this time. The intensity and then the frequency of the knocks started growing eventually turning into loud banging. I was sure the university didn’t have room service, so I asked loudly,

“Who is it?”

The banging stopped immediately.

A few seconds passed and it started again. Without asking any more questions, I unlocked the door and opened it. In front of me were three giant-sized guys staring down at me like I was a morsel of fresh meat they were going to devour.

“Nice to see you,” was all I could manage to say.

Before I move on with my story, I feel I should explain my university campus a bit in order to help you understand my experience better. As we move out of the hostel, there’s a pathway leading to the gate. To the right of the gate is a long pathway that extends round the huge campus.

The three guys shoved me out of my room, barely giving me enough time to lock it behind me, and made me march around the pathway – just a part of it, fortunately. Any sluggishness displayed and I would face a punishment too erotic (and painful) to describe. I felt bad at first but the embarrassment subsided when I saw my acquaintance, another freshman, marching towards us from the opposite side. The fact that we were all in the same boat in becoming a laughing stock for the seniors was amusing. Uncontrollable mirth escaped me and that was followed by another ‘punishment’.

Three hours of continuous exercising was more than I had ever done in my life; hence, the muscle ache in the morning was excruciating. The good part was that I became friends with the other freshmen I saw experiencing the same torment as me the night before. The bad part was that it wasn’t over yet; which meant I would come across more hostel residents experiencing different ‘incidents’ at night, make more friends and be stuck in a vicious cycle I never intended to be part of when I gave the admission test.

What you have to understand here is that different people take different things differently, so different ways are needed to teach them. Most of the hostel residents, including myself, might not have liked the ragging experience, but it brought us together. On the other hand, some took it seriously. This isn’t what they signed up for (well, neither did we) and they just weren’t ready for it.

We, the fresh crop, were put in helpless situations where we would be forced to act inappropriately by generating fear inside us, despite knowing the fact that we could escape. This smartly triggered ‘learned helplessness’ is a form of psychological torture. The response to this varies amongst individuals, and for those having a low threshold, it turned out to be a disastrous takedown of their self-esteem.

Everyone recovered in the end though and learnt to cope with being ragged. The seniors, however, managed to grant their fair share of frustration to many of us — frustration ready to be unleashed onto the upcoming freshman batch. It’s like a never ending process, like a tire on a road, with no friction to stop it; it might not be extremely problematic for the coming batch or the one after that, but it definitely has the potential to harm someone badly. And this is why friction is needed.

Anti-ragging rules work to a certain extent, but then these bullies find ways around them and get back to business. The only way around ragging is to understand why people do it. Seniors usually rag freshies because they want to prove to the freshman that they are superior to them. Their trivial objective, in my opinion, is to escape the miserable opinion they have of themselves by making those with low self-esteem suffer. Unfortunately, this pitiful action is then successfully passed on to their victims as a system to vent their frustrations. I do not believe it will put a complete stop to ragging, but if there is a counsellor on board, a certified therapist who can assist students, gauge their behaviour and explain causes to them, then perhaps, ragging will not be as much of a threat. The fear of being watched by someone who is judging your personality and character is just the right type of ragging these bullies may need.

Syed Ahmed Imran Majeed

Syed Ahmed Imran Majeed

A second year medical student at Aga Khan University, Karachi. He enjoys travelling, writing, watching movies and is Interested in psycho-social matters in the society as well as education and health in Pakistan.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Maximus Decimus Meridius

    Ragging cannot be banned. There are rules but they will never be enforced strictly. This is a fact. However, the best,or probably most ruthless and shameless way of escaping this type of treatment is to make friends with some seniors BEFORE your first day. Best time is during entry tests etc. Then on the first day hang out with the seniors and take part in pointing out victims and become their inside man(You will not escape outright, but you wont get the worst treatment).
    Thank God I studied at a university controlled by the Pak Army where anyone caught ragging would most probably have been sent for a stint in siachen as punishemnt.Recommend

  • Shehryar Khan

    Ragging is absolutely pathetic neanderthal like behavior which should be dealt with in form of immediate expulsion and if ever even jail term of minimum one month. Bullies do not have a single moral fiber intact hence they should be dealt with an iron fist. Universities, colleges and schools are a place to learn and educate not to rag and other medieval activities.Recommend

  • http://www.sepia-paper.deviantart.com Muhammed Waqar Younis

    ..I was going to have the same experience but before the soo called “Bullies” tried to get hands on me I had made friends with some big guys that had a considerable influence and they came to my help while I was being taken…It seems more like some people who know they are gonna end up badly want to do as much as bad things to others as possible..Like we are gonna face a bad end why don’t we make it bad as well for those who are just starting?Recommend

  • Saady

    Guys I m his batch mate.Recommend

  • SH

    I don’t think showing superiority is the main reason behind seniors picking on the freshman batch. The main reason is the “entertainment” it provides and has been going on since many years in all levels of education, from school to university, and is accepted by educational institutions’ authorities (regardless of the rules). The seniors are not strictly stopped from ragging or get away with it because institutions take it lightly. I myself have heard a principal of a school say “It’s just a matter of a day, it’ll pass.” about ragging. Recommend

  • ziddi

    I had been bullied during my school life later at university. The sole reason i found out was, those “mentally frustrated people” in order to prove themselves so called cool while they were surely not, were not able to cope up with tensions and problems and were not able to protect or help themselves when they were bullied so they seek their pleasure by giving same torment to others. May God help such mentally retarded,they really need a psychiatrist.Recommend

  • Saad

    So how come you’re saying that ragging cannot be banned when you’re thanking your uni for posing rules with severe consequences? I’ve studied in a canadian uni, and believe me on my first day the seniors, guys and girls, where reaching out to me to help me with my luggage and other admin procedures. If anyone did bully me, they would get charged for assault. It’s the culture that needs to be changed, and strict rules can make a differenceRecommend

  • Maximus Decimus Meridius

    Rules mean nothing. there are rules almost everywhere. what matters is that those rules are enforced. If a boy is caught breaking them he is punished even if his father/mother/uncle/aunt/neighbour/martian relative is someone powerful. Until this happens ragging will continue.
    Ragging in many foreign universities has been replaced by “initiation” rituals. Takes out the element of coercion and non consensual so that no one can be blamed and no one gets to face the lawsuit.Recommend

  • Vikash

    It was astonished for me that in aku seniors ragged the juniors.i was thinking before reading this article that ragging trend can only be seen in government universites.

  • Sane

    Encouraging ragging and let loose criminals in offing in educational institution is causing degenerating the society.Recommend

  • Sundas Rashid

    Ah It reminds me of my first day at uni. Our seniors (pretending to be administration staff) made us pay a fee in order to attend the orientation….later, when i found it was a hoax by the seniors, I almost cried for becoming a victim; being short of money those days.Recommend

  • Syed Ahmed Imran Majeed

    Thank you for your comments. I appreciate the opinions mentioned here, as well as those directed to me in my email inbox.
    There were some very good suggestions and ideas mailed to me.
    The most important thing here is to find out why a certain rule in any institution has been put into place. What is the background of it? Did anyone pressurize the institution to place the rule, or did the institution place it solely due to good intentions?

    Secondly, I have received some mails regarding ragging specifically at “Aga Khan University.” In my article, I have mentioned no name of the university in which I got ragged. I understand why such a misconception has been aroused: because my current university (as mentioned in my introduction) is AKU. Since I did not clarify anything in my article, I’ll do it here.

    I knew there could never be any guarantee I’d get into AKU which is why I applied in other universities in Pakistan. I would never name a university which I have, or have not attended before. Bad-mouthing any institution which strives to spread knowledge is wrong. My article about ragging refers to experiences in a university before my coming to AKU. Hence clarified, there is no ragging at Aga Khan University.

    But something happened on the contrary. I believed I would be ragged here too and the exact opposite happened. Many of the seniors (not all, though) helped me ease into the system of studying and living at the hostel.

    Now is the time when juniors come to AKU. I believe this was the best time to get such an article published. It makes clear the difference between life at AKU and life at other institutions where this malpractice remains uncontrolled.

    The sole purpose of this article was to discourage this malpractice much as it can be discouraged. People are not aware of the harms they cause, till the consequences of their actions go too far. One of the events that prompted me to write about this was coming to AKU from a university where ragging was not even discouraged. The difference between life at hostels in these two universities was massive.

    About bullying. I am anyone who isn’t “street smart” is bullied. Again yes, laws or rules can only work to a particular extent, but they do work all the same. What writing about the wrongs in society does is that it not only appeals to the general population, but to those involved in these acts. They are the target who need to change, or be forced to change.

    Please continue sending in your opinions and suggestions. I would love to read them.Recommend

  • Confessions of a victim

    Everyone talks about ragging and they only consider the male ragging…Noone looks at the female ragging…

    Unlike the boys hostel,the girls hostel had the juniors and seniors in the same building..After all,a senior girl would always look at the junior girl like her sister..ha..

    They used to make us complete our assignments,use all our dresses,make us wash and clean their clothes,use up all the balance in our mobile phone,disturb the study hours of top rankers..

    I dont want to talk about those who rubbed them in a wrong way as they are too bad to be discussed in a public forum…

    But one thing I can tell u that female ragging is even worse than male ragging as they try to crumble our confidence internally and noone believes if we try to tell them..Recommend

  • Moiz Omar

    Why do people do the action of ragging? What do they get out of it? What is so amusing in abusing someone? Really pathetic behaviour.Recommend

  • Dante

    Ragging is pathetic, but not all of it is bad. Some seniors (especially girls) like to do a milder form of ragging which actually creates a lasting friendship. However hostel scenario is totally different and I’ve heard some crazy stories originating from there :)Recommend

  • Physical Arena

    to check how ragging is good? Recommend