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Discussion is the best way to solve problems

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Protests held by university students, which seem to have increased in the recent past, make one question; if university students are of the mindset that discussions and other peaceful methods of protest are futile, and that the only method to take action is through satyagraha campaigns, picketing and demonstrations.

Colombo University student, Sethsara  Wickramanayake said, “Discussion is the best way to solve problems. Everyone should try to understand other’s points-of-view and propose fair solutions.” He added that the government should appoint a legal body for university-related   problems.

 “Discussions are the best way to solve problems, and protests will rarely give solutions to problems,” Colombo University Science Faculty Students’ Union President, Nishan Dissanayake told The Nation. He added that one should step wisely, and if the administration can’t comprehend their problems, the students and unions should think of an alternative that is possible and non-aggressive.
Colombo University Law Faculty Students’ Union President, Sandaruwan Senanayake also shared his opinion with The Nation, said, “We try to solve problems by holding discussions. When these fail and there are no other alternatives, we opt to hold protests.”
Inter-University Students’ Federation (IUSF) convener, Najith Indika denied this, commenting that the student union members first request the opportunity to hold discussions with university administration, government bodies and other relevant authorities before taking to the streets. “Prior to the protest held on March 31, we took many steps to hold discussions with the authorities, but there was no response to our requests and letters. This is why we held a demonstration,” Najith
Indika said.

Frontline Socialist Party member and former IUSF convener, Duminda Nagamuwa also said that IUSF first takes steps to hold discussions with the relevant authorities, and this was also the procedure when he was part of the IUSF. “First discussions are held. When these are futile, protests are held,” Nagamuwa commented.

However, IUSF Convener Najith Indika also added that they no longer wish to have discussions, or take peaceful methods to find solutions to their problems. “We have no alternative but to fight,” Najith Indika said, explaining that like the previous government, the present government is also oppressing students and student unions and selling education. He added that following university holidays, IUSF will be holding a large-scale protest, although the protest dates are yet to be decided.

“We openly work with civil society, for instance, workers’ unions, media institutions, and also leftist political parties,” Najith Indika said, explaining that they have not been influenced by the political parties. “If the parties make suggestions to us, we first discuss it between ourselves before accepting or rejecting them,” Najith Indika added. However, he admitted that union members take part in the activities of the political parties because they work with the parties.

Student unions working with political parties aren’t something new, Duminda Nagamuwau said, explaining that the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) had also been involved in university student activism in the past. He said that the Frontline Socialist Party works with the IUSF, and added that they are part of the world we live in, and don’t live in a separate world.

Nagamuwa also said that when students do not receive the amount promised through the Mahapola Scholarship, their education is affected, and the authorities are denying them and their rights. Thus the Frontline Socialist Party intervenes, in order to win them their freedom.

This is now extending to schools, but Nagamuwa said, “There is no education void of politics.” He explained that at the very dept of the syllabuses of most subjects are the political ideologies of the country. Thus he said, “Everyone, at all times, with the right levels of maturity, should be aware of the situation of the country and equality in society.”

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