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21 March, 2019 00:00 00 AM
Students’ unions at major public universities

Call for elections grows louder

Md Habibulla, Dhaka
Call for elections grows louder

Following the much-talked-about election to the Dhaka University Central Students' Union (DUCSU), student organisations of other public universities across the country now want to hold such polls in their respective educational institutions.

However, a large number of students have termed the recently concluded DUCSU polls mostly controversial. They say they want to hold the elections to their varsities in a free and fair manner and without the controversy that engulfed the election to the country’s largest public academic institution.

Talking to our correspondents at different public universities, the authorities said they have no problem in holding such elections, provided that the student organisations ensure a congenial atmosphere for the polls.

Leaders of the student organisations in Jahangirnagar University, Chittagong University and Rajshahi University said they have repeatedly demanded fresh polls. A vibrant student union is imperative for reflecting the opinions of general students and maintaining a fair political atmosphere on the campus. It is also important for carrying out cultural activities and ensuring free-thinking among students.

The Independent spoke to several senior teachers and students to know why no polls have been held to the student unions in public universities for such a long time.

There has been fear among political parties, especially the ruling party, that such polls could curb their domination on the campus. The sheer apathy of the varsity authorities are also believed to have kept the polls at bay.

Students are facing numerous problems in the absence of a functional central students' union in public universities. They cannot place their demands to the varsity authorities without having any representative from the students. Some student organisations have been exploiting the power vacuum created by this situation.

In Rajshahi University (RU), students, teachers, and political and cultural bodies want to hold a fair, credible and participatory election to the Rajshahi University Central Students' Union (RUCSU) within this year. However, there is apprehension about the fairness of any such election.

However, all student organisations are ready to take part in the election if the varsity authorities manage to ensure a congenial atmosphere on the campus.

Masud Monnaf, convener of the Bangladesh Sadharan Chhatra Odhikar Sangrakkhan Parishad of RU, said: “We faced vote rigging and irregularities at DU. But our candidate, Nurul Hoque Nur, overcame all odds and won as VP. We will take part in the RUCSU elections to work against discrimination. General students will vote for us and we will work for them."

In response to a question, Monnaf said: "We'll officially announce our candidates after announcement of RUCSU poll schedule. At present, we do not have any alliance with other student bodies.”

However, Golam Kibrai, president of the RU BCL unit, said: “There will be no negative impact as the DUCSU election was held with credibility. Anti-government quarters are spreading propaganda. The RUCSU election will be held with fairly. We also demand the election at the university.”

RU Proctor Prof. Luthfor Rahman, who is also chief of the dialogue committee of the RUCSU, said: “We are observing the situation. The date of election is yet to be finalised.”

“We hope to hold a credible and participatory election. We will try our best to create an environment conducive for students. We have already started discussions with all registered student organisations in this regard. We are trying to ensure co-existence of all on the campus,” he added.

The last RUCSU election was held in 1989. The Chittagong University Central Students' Union (CUCSU) remains dysfunctional in the absence of any polls in the past 28 years. Different student organisations are demanding that an immediate election be held to the CUCSU.

General students and teachers point at the non-cooperation of student leaders when it comes to holding polls for the CUCSU. Student leaders allege that the varsity authorities are indifferent to their demand.

Mirza Fakhrul Islam, the CU unit secretary of the Bangladesh Chhatra Federation, said, “We have talked to the authorities several times in this regard. The authorities advised the student organisations to form a council to discuss the matter.”

Mijanur Rahman Bipul, former deputy office secretary of the CU unit of the Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL), said the CUCSU election should be held immediately in the interest of academic and cultural activities. “Accommodation and transport crisis has become a serious threat to us. The students’ union election can help resolve such problems,” he added.

CU Vice-Chancellor Prof. Iftekhar Uddin Chowdhury said the university was keen on holding the polls. “But the student organisations must ensure that no untoward incident will take place on the campus centring the CUCSU elections. There should be a congenial atmosphere during the polls.”

“All the students have to be united for the CUCSU elections. If there is an active students’ union, it’ll be very helpful,” he added.

Contacted yesterday, the VC said the university authorities are set to form a panel to observe the situation in the campus.

“We have decided to hold the CUCSU polls following the existing regulation. To this end, a review committee will be formed tomorrow (Thursday) to observe the overall situation of the campus,” said Iftekhar Uddin Chowdhury.  

In Jahangirnagar University (JU), students are raising their voices for an immediate election to its central students’ union. To realise this demand, different students’ organisations have brought out processions on the campus and submitted memorandum to the JU authorities.

Talking to The Independent, Md Didar, general secretary of the JU unit of Chhatra Front, said they wanted a free, fair and participatory poll. “For that, the authorities have to ensure a friendly environment for all students,” he added.

“We don’t want such polls where only a particular quarter will get all the facilities,” he said. Juyel Rana, president of the BCL JU unit, also demanded fair polls to the students’ union.

Md Amir Hussain, pro-vice chancellor (administration) of JU, said no decision has been taken in this regard yet. “If the students call for such polls, we will think about the issue,” he added.

“Coexistence of students is important for such polls. All student bodies should come forward in this regard,” said Hussain. The last election to the central students’ union was held 26 years ago.


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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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