Dear Law School Seniors,
In the recent past, I have observed a rising spate of write ups about the law school experience, or college experiences in general, and more of them than I am comfortable with, tell freshers to be cool with ragging, and excuse the seniors of any personal or social liability from their wanting to rag freshers. The reason they cite for excusing such a (reprehensible) practice can be split into a nullifying total: that though seniors do it for their own entertainment (not positive for fresher) it helps the fresher to get to know the seniors better (positive for fresher) which, of course, has its own positive repercussions.
Ragging, they say, is a “necessary” part of college life, a “rite of passage”, an experience a fresher ought to “man up” to, and “be a sport” about and tolerate, and even appear to enjoy if he can. Now, there’s a tiny problem I have with all this, not the least of which is that ragging is illegal. Law schools, of course, are strange places where in the process of building respect for the rule of law, they end up inculcating a bit of a contempt for laws. And for that much berated word, “morality”. Likewise, i have a lot of contempt for anyone imposing a law’s letter over its spirit, as well anyone imposing their own standards of morality on someone else (standard law school teaching, well digested). That does not mean that I can’t suggest that law students have the basic sense to understand that bullies don’t make friends. They may make Godfathers, not friends.
In all those ice-breaking experiences that ragging is supposed to generate, no one ever walked out with a friend (unless it was the guy pissing in his pants, standing next to you pissing in yours). Yes, it probably acquaints the seniors’ with your name. That, I firmly believe, is the real ice-breaking component of the entire exercise: the simple, memor-able/-izable/-izationworthy exchange of names. It needn’t be mixed up with camouflaged violence, domination/subordination, ego games and involuntary ass-licking. Just because you went through “much worse” when you joined college, doesn’t mandate you to “pass it down”. Also, just because Sati needed a law to abolish it, doesn’t mean every reprehensible tradition (such as ragging is) needs a law to abolish it too. Oh, wait. There already is one!
If it’s worth anything, I speak from experience. I liked every single senior who came up and spoke to me like I was a person, worthy of, if not respect, then basic human decency. I dreaded/ feared each one who didn’t. And, here’s the shocker, when i eventually became a senior i managed to learn the names of, and eventually become friends with, several of my juniors (some of whom forgot mine quickly enough ) without needing them to do menial tasks for me just for an ego massage, for that fleeting feeling of having the power of controlling another person (like, seriously, you want to identify with the kind of people who like that!?). I guess you’re thinking I was probably a “wuss” when I was ragged, rude or over-perky, and “got what I deserved” for “putting on an attitude”. Nah. I was good at getting ragged. An extrovert that I am, I was good at exhibiting myself, and being a sport, and the whole drill. It wasn’t bad for me, you know. Just some invisible pole dancing, impromptu singing, running like a chicken in a race around the “cess-pool”, and introducing myself without arrogance, umpteen number of times. This is nothing, several of you will think. But girls usually don’t get ragged too badly, no? In any case, that was not bad for me. It might be enough to be humiliating for someone less used to making a prat of themselves. For sure, getting ragged will leave you with memories and stories for life, scars too. For some, these might be mental scars.
So, then, this note is for all seniors out there, about to welcome juniors into the horrible place your campus is. You’re in law school and one of the first things you learned is that morality is subjective and that it is contemptible to impose your own standards of morality on someone else. So. Don’t. Your liberty to personally interact with a fresher only extends to the figurative end of his/her nose. Being figurative, you can’t see it. Keep off it. If you want to get to know your juniors, try introducing yourself. It works! And if what you’re really interested in is some entertainment, watch Prison Break.
PS: for those of you who need some bullying, here’s some cud to chew on: http://www.aicte-india.org/anti.htm