During a graduation ceremony, students at the University of Colombo refused to accept their degree certificates from the newly appointed University Chancellor, and Rajapaksa-aligned, Buddhist monk Muruththettuwe Ananda.
The act of protest follows a statement by the University of Colombo’s Science Teachers’ Association (UCSTA) expressing their opposition to Ananda's appointment as Chancellor.
The UCSTA highlighted that “even though the Chancellor’s role is mostly ceremonial, the person who holds the position ideally should have a track record of flawless professional and personal integrity, whose reputation and credentials will assist the University in furthering its reputation and credibility nationally and internationally”.
“We believe that the Thero’s association with a well-known trade union and his political affiliations will not be helpful for advancing the universities’ interests within the local, national and international spheres and express our extreme disappointment in this appointment,” the UCSTA added.
Ananda is closely aligned with the Rajapaksa administration with President Rajapaksa claiming in November that:
“The Thero helped this government to come into power. The Thero made contributions from the time of President Mahinda Rajapaksa. That’s true,” Rajapaksa continued.
A number of other groups have protested his appointment including the Federation of University Teachers’ Associations (FUTA), the Colombo University’s Academic Federation, the Faculty of Medicine Teachers’ Association (FMTA), and the Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA) have all condemned the appointment as well.
Responding to the news TNA politician Shanakiyan Rajaputhiran Rasamanickam tweeted:
Some UOC students refuse to accept degree certificate frm newly appointed Chancellor. Many students participated in the graduation wearing black arm bands while some even refused to accept the certificate from Muruththettuwe Ananda Thero. Glad to see our youth stand up against BS pic.twitter.com/f1kQ6STJMA
— Shanakiyan Rajaputhiran Rasamanickam (@ShanakiyanR) December 19, 2021