Our modus operandi was an elaborate yet comprehensive survey questionnaire. A total of 22 students were surveyed. The survey was uniformly spread across all student groups – freshers, seniors, girls, boys, hostelers and day-scholars. For ease of analysis, the ragging incidents were classified into mild, moderate and intense.
Any form of ragging that doesn’t affect the victim physically or mentally is termed mild ragging. The common acts of mild ragging in CBIT are formal introduction and dress code. Every student, before he’s ragged, has to give an introduction (usually known as bio-data or BD) of himself. But the seniors may introduce certain variations like asking them to speak without a pause or to speak entirely in Telugu or Hindi etc. The common restrictions for boys, in the context of dress code, are T-shirts, denims, branded formal wear, accessories (belt, watch etc.). This helps the freshers to be easily spotted. “I’ve never worn anything apart from T-shirt and Jeans since the past few years. I had to scout for a tailor after the very first week of college. It felt quite awkward wearing the formal dresses”, complains Vikyath, a first year CSE student. The ones who do not conform to the dress code are ‘punished’ by the seniors. A common punishment is making them write with a pen on their jeans. The restrictions for girls are far less for they are required to wear only salwar kameez.
It was startling to note that all the 22 surveyed students have been subjected to mild ragging. While no one expressed any problems with formal introduction, 18 students wanted there to be a check on dress code ragging.
A ragging incident that is generally tolerable but affects a person mentally or physically would fall under the moderate ragging category. The survey revealed a host of moderate ragging instances in CBIT. “Asking a student to dance or sing is a passé now. The seniors come up with newer and creative ideas of ragging every year, to make the ragging interesting and fun”, says Pratibha Kumar, a second year Mechanical student. Verbal abuse is quite prevalent in CBIT, as is evident from the survey. These include abusing a student, indulging in a sexual conversation with him/her, asking the fresher to sing a ‘dirty’ song etc. The survey revealed that more boys than girls were subjected to moderate ragging. Being asked to propose to a girl/boy is quite common. But there can be variations here too! “I can’t forget the day I was asked to propose to dog. I was asked to wait for the dog to bark in approval. It was like I waited forever”, chuckles Dinesh, a 2nd year EEE student. Asking freshers to write assignments and records for the seniors is a common practice.
The survey revealed that only about 2 students were not subjected to moderate ragging . While some of them found it fun, some said they were a bit embarrassed when they were alone during the ragging incident. But they didn’t mind if they were ragged along with their friends”.
Intense ragging incidents are the ones where a fresher is compelled to perform humiliating acts, which might have an adverse mental or physical effects. Nikhith, a 2nd year EEE student recalls, “I was once forced by a 4th year student to booze. I was a teetotaler hitherto this incident. What made matters worse that he forced me to drink 4 shots of vodka one after the other. I was so fuddled that day that my friends had to carry me on their shoulders and take me to the bus”. But such incidents generally don’t happen in the campus premises. Freshers are generally taken for a ride (pun intended) by the seniors to nearby places like Khanapur, Gandipet or the Golconda fort and ragged. The reasons for it are obviously, the absence of any authority in such places to control their actions. “I was taken to Golconda once and was asked to climb a tree and act as if I were making out with it”, Rakesh (name changed) tells us. Such incidents also happen in buses and hostels.
While very few girls said they were subjected to intense ragging, 5 boys out of 12 told us that they faced intense ragging.
We’ve focused mainly on on-campus ragging till now. But we now elaborate on the off-campus ragging that CBITians face. While the hostelers are ragged in hostels, the day scholars are ragged in buses. So there’s no escaping ragging for the average CBITian!
It’s common knowledge and perception that ragging in hostels is severe. Though the boys’ hostel has separate blocks for juniors and seniors, the hostelers said the seniors prey on them when they go to their Mess during lunch break. The hostelers say that though the ragging in hostel is worse than that in the college campus, they are ragged in groups, which reduces the embarrassment. Since most of the hostel in-mates are non-locals, they have no other option but to stay in the hostel and live with ragging. The hostelers have revealed that there have been incidents of stripping last year. But any further probing into the incidents was in total vain.
The typical first day of a fresher, who commutes by college bus, starts by avoiding the glares of the seniors in his/her bus stop. To the freshers horror, this might then turn into ragging. But the arrival of the bus helps them heave a sigh of relief. They then hop into the bus and see a lecturer or two seated in the first row. If they are lucky enough, the lecturer would be awake. Nevertheless the presence of a lecturer in the bus bestows upon the student some invincibility. The seating in buses is also a major factor which determines the intensity of ragging. The last rows are sites of the main action. Also, if the lecturer is strict enough, half the battle is won. However, after one or two months, the lecturers loosen their control over the juniors. So this is when the ragging starts. The ragging incidents exclusive to buses are those of ‘pole dancing’. All the above mentioned facts fuelled the introduction of ‘Juniors’ exclusive buses’. So a student is free of all the ragging action if there’s such a bus in his/her route.
The long and short of the survey is that the management has certainly intervened and helped curtail ragging. The juniors have a separate block for themselves where they are totally insulated from the seniors. Also, the anti-ragging squad in college aims at penalizing students involved in ragging. Prof. R.P. Choudary, one of the members of ARS, is constantly in touch with the students – both day-scholars and hostelers and asks the students to freely talk to him about any case of ragging. But the ARS has been written off by the students. “The ineffectiveness of ARS lies in the fact that the students are not aware of its existence. Even if they are aware, they don’t know how to contact them. Even if they are aware, they are apprehensive about complaining about the seniors. The ARS should be publicized more”, suggests Divya, a 4th year ECE student. Some ragging cases, which have been brought to the notice of the management, prompted the management in issuing suspension orders to a student. Though these students were not rusticated from college, they were suspended for a few weeks, depending on the gravity of the incident.
The freshers unanimously agreed that there’s a lot left to be done to eradicate ragging from the college. Having different college timings for the freshers and seniors is one such measure that was suggested. But they also agreed to the fact that more rules would mean loss of freedom for them when they’d become seniors. So they are happy the way the college is, now. ‘Interaction’ has been a euphemism for ragging, since ages. While most of the students agreed that ragging does help improve interaction between juniors and seniors, they suggest that there be a friendlier means of breaking the ice. “The college can conduct team games/sports where a team would consist of both juniors and seniors”, suggested Swaroop, a 1st year IT student. “If there are active clubs like literary, sports, arts, cultural etc. and if both juniors and seniors are a part of these clubs then it would help them meet people of similar tastes”, suggested Namrata Salunke, a Chemical, 2nd year student.
The seniors had the following advice to give to their juniors:
“Whenever a senior asks you a notebook to see your handwriting, show him the notes where your writing is worst”
“The bus is a great place for hiding from the seniors, during college hours”
“Avoid venturing into the basketball court and parking lot if you desperately want to avoid ragging”
“Be obedient to the seniors as long as they are reasonable. Don’t unnecessarily enter into a spat with them”
“Enjoy getting ragged. Even though you may not like getting ragged, you will look back and laugh at those incidents. Trust me, you’ll miss getting ragged, after you enter into the 2nd year. Don’t do everything the seniors ask you to do but don’t refuse to do everything what they ask you to do.”