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14 October, 2019 00:00 00 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 14 October, 2019 01:31:54 AM
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Student bodies rule public varsity dorms

Currently, Chhatra League is calling the shots in public university halls, which were earlier ruled by Chhatra Dal or Chhatra Shibir
Staff Reporter, Dhaka with Our Correspondents, DU, CU and RU
Student bodies rule public varsity dorms

The residential halls in different public universities across the country have long been dubbed a playground of the affiliate student bodies of ruling parties. General students have alleged that the leaders and activists of the parties in power have traditionally controlled the hall functionaries. At present, Awami League (AL) is in power for three consecutive terms stretching for more than a decade now. During this time, its associate student body Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL) has been calling the shots in the universities. Earlier, it was either the BNP’s affiliate student body Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal (JCD) or its alliance partner Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami’s affiliate body Islami Chhatra Shibir, which ruled the campuses.

While talking to the students and teachers, The Independent found a number of examples of unwanted practices that are associated with power, for which ordinary students suffer almost routinely.

Dhaka University (DU)

The general students of DU often complain that the BCL acts as ‘alternative administration’ in the varsity’s residential halls.

The allocation of hall seats is controlled by the BCL leaders. They hold students hostage by capitalising on the latter’s accommodation crisis. The role of hall administration is said to be a helpless spectator.

As per the university rules, new students are allotted seats by the Dean’s office. It is the responsibility of that respective hall administration to ensure accommodation facilities to the students.

But as things stand, the rules and procedures seem to be dictated these days by the BCL as a shadow authority.

Students say it takes at least three years to get a place in a reasonably good room. Everything depends on the whims of the student front of the ruling political party.

Taking advantage of the accommodation crises, BCL leaders are compelling first, second and third-year honours students to join its political programmes at the hall guest rooms, terming them as “guest room programmes”.

If a student is found absent without the permission of the senior leaders, he is punished. The punishments range from verbal to physical abuse, cancellation of hall seats, and even ouster from halls with bag and baggage.

An activist of Chhatra Union, Abdul Karim, who is a student of Sir AF Rahman Hall, said he had talked to his hall Provost several times, but could not manage a seat as that procedure is controlled by the BCL leaders.

Dhaka University Central Students’ Union (DUCSU) Vice-President Nurul Haq Nur said, “Our provosts and house tutors are so busy that they have forgotten morality.”

According to him, “If anyone protests against the irregularities here, the BCL tags them as members of Chhatra Shibir. With the help of the authorities, we tried to resolve the problem in various halls. But the BCL goons attacked us. One of us, Farid, was severely injured.”

Expressing concern, Sir A F Rahman Hall Provost Prof. Dr. KM Saiful Islam Khan said, “We discussed the crisis in the provost standing committee. Enough is enough! These ‘gono-rooms’ are destroying the intellectual calibre of our students. Some of them are getting addicted, attempting extortion and even getting involved in mayhem.”

Amidst this frustrating scenario, a ray of hope has been sighted of late with the DU Provost Committee deciding to take control of the dormitories.

The committee has decided that students completing their master’s exam should leave the halls within 15 days.

The hall administration will allocate the vacant seats on the basis of merit to students admitted to the 1st year. It has also been decided that no student would be allowed to stay without administrative permission.

Chittagong University (CU)

The ordinary students of CU have been deprived of residential facilities for the last few decades, as the dormitories have been dominated by the affiliate student bodies of different political parties.

During the last six years, the BCL is controlling the university’s dormitories. Earlier, they were under the control of the Chhatra Shibir.

After the January 5, 2014 general election, the BCL gradually started occupying the halls. As these halls are under the control of a political students’ wing, ordinary students are always denied seat allotment in these dormitories.

Some ordinary students alleged that when the hall authorities publish a circular, seeking application for room allotment, the leaders of political parties give a list of their activists to the hall authorities for allotting seats to them.

The hall authorities allot seats in accordance with the lists given by political leaders. As a result, the general students are deprived of getting accommodation in the halls despite fulfilling all the requirements, they allege. Sources say that even if an ordinary student manages to get a seat in any hall, the person finds it difficult to live there because the threats issued by political party activists.

Admitting the threats given by political leaders to the general student, Khaled Misbahur Jaman, convener of the CU hall provost committee, told The Independent, “We have heard of such incidents. But no one has lodged any complaint yet.”

He, however, denied any partiality at the time of seat allotment. “We always complete this allotment process in a transparent manner under the supervision of university proctor. There is no scope for irregularities,” he claimed.

Rajshahi University (RU)

The leaders and activists of the BCL of RU unit have grabbed the dormitories by taking control of the seats.  

They control around 100-150 seats in every dormitory that are referred to as the ‘BCL Block’. It is said even outsiders reside in the halls under the protection of BCL men. Many of these outsiders are said to be working as political agents and operate crime syndicate along with torture cells. Besides, hall provosts invariably give priority to those recommended by the BCL when allotting seats.

Sources said hall offices were the sole allotting authorities but were unable to supervise hall seat distribution without the consent of the BCL. Basically, BCL men are said to be controlling seat distribution and allegedly take money from each student. Even, the provost is not able to give seats unless the allotment is cleared by BCL leaders. Sources also said the BCL had announced their charges for seat allotment—Tk 4,000 for single or double seat and Tk 2-3 thousand for four-seated rooms. The money collected is allegedly distributed among BCL men.

There is no way a student can reside in a hall without BCL recommendation and paying its leaders. Students failing to pay cannot live in a hall even if they are allotted seats by the hall offices. In fact, they have to keep paying the residential rent without residing.

Philosophy student Dhanessor Roy will complete his master’s degree within the next three months but he failed to get a seat because he failed to pay the BCL. He had been allotted a seat three years back. Like him, many students failed to get seats in the hall.

There are some 33,874 students currently enrolled in the university; of them, 22,290 are male and 11,584 female students, according to the university’s annual report of 2017-18. Of the total, only 8,130 students—5,061 males and 3,069 females—reside in 17 student dormitories, source said quoting the report.

BCL General Secretary Failsal Ahmed Runu said, “A few students take money from other students in the name of the BCL. I have informed the higher-ups and will discuss the issue with our leaders and activists. After that, we will take action against the alleged seat business.”

Hall convenor provost Prof Dr Rezaul Karim Bakshi said, “Hall provosts cannot control fully due to political considerations. I will talk with the vice chancellor to solve the problem.”

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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