Dhaka University Central Students’ Union (DUCSU) initiated a move to organise a workshop titled ‘Awareness Campaign on Cyber Safety and 999’ last July.
DUCSU social welfare affairs secretary Akhter Hossain led the initiative.
The workshop was supposed to take place on 16 July. That did not happen allegedly because he was elected from the panel of General Students Rights Protection Council (Bangladesh Sadharan Chhatra Odhikar Sangrakkhan Parishad).
Akhter blamed two Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL) leaders -- DUCSU general secretary and assistant general secretary for their non-cooperation.
DUCSU was activated through an election in March after 29 years. However, DUCSU is plagued with conflict.
According to students, DUCSU is unable to play an effective role in fulfilling their expectation. The non-cooperation between the VP and the GS and AGS has aggravated the situation.
Students alleged that no initiative has been taken to solve the accommodation problems of the students six months into the one-year tenure of the DUCSU committee.
The junior students are being kept in over-crowded dormitory and they are being forced to join political programmes. The incidents of misbehaving with junior students still occur.
BCL panel candidates won 23 posts including that of GS and AGS out of 25 posts. Two candidates of General Students Rights Protection Council won the posts of vice president (VP) and social welfare affairs secretary of DUCSU.
After the election on 11 March, the first executive committee meeting was held on 23 March, and the second one on 30 May. DUCSU president and vice chancellor Md Akhtaruzzaman presided over both the meetings. Except these two meetings, DUCSU could not hold any other organisational meetings.
Vice president Nurul Haq blamed GS Golam Rabbani and AGS Saddam Hossain for their non-cooperation. However, both of them termed Nurul’s statement ‘false’.
Speaking to Prothom Alo, Nurul Haq said, “The GS could not be contacted despite repeated attempts. The GS is also the general secretary of the central committee of BCL. Decisions are taken at his home and even the DUCSU budget is made there.”
Nurul also said he was not consulted on any single issue.
However, the AGS claimed more than one meeting was held alongside the two executive committee meetings. VP Nurul was informed but he did not join.
Many members of DUCSU carried out pro-students programmes separately. But, DUCSU as a platform did not take up any programme.
However, AGS Saddam Hossain, sports secretary Shakil Ahmed, members Tanvir Hasan, Rafiqul Islam and Mahmudul Hasan were seen busy with different works.
A literary supplement was published under the initiative of literary secretary Mazharul Kabir.
No significant work, but budget being spent
Despite the failure to meet the students' expectations, the DUCSU has spent more than one-fifth of its budget. A total of Tk 4 million out of Tk 18.9 million of the last DUCSU budget has been used.
Of the budget, a total of Tk 3 million was allocated for an introduction programme of the DUCSU leaders. It is yet to be held six months into the elections.
DUCSU general secretary wants to arrange the programme with prime minister Sheikh Hasina as chief guest. The programme is now depending on the PM's availability.
The total expenditure has not been calculated as yet, but the cultural secretary Asif Talukdar has taken Tk 300,000 for cultural programmes. The last cultural programme was held on 1 September.
On the other hand, sports secretary Shakil Ahmed organised six events as he took Tk 300,000 from the DUCSU treasury.
Apart from DUCSU funds, Shakil said he also received money from sponsors of the programmes and also from GS’ funds. He held a programme on 28 August.
GS Golam Rabbani said DUCSU budget must be stretched as the DUCSU budget is 0.25 per cent of the total budget of the university. It should be at least 1 per cent.
VP Nurul Haq said budget would be no problem if the work is properly coordinated.
The budget issue has been overshadowed by other issues such as ‘guestroom’, overcrowded accommodation, etc.
Due to severe shortage of accommodation at the dormitories, students of the first year do not get rooms.
As there is no alternative to them, they go to the ruling party leaders and have to take part in their party programmes.
During the DUCSU elections, the accommodation problem was on the priority list of different panels including Chhatra League, and Bangladesh Sadharan Chhatra Odhikar Sangrakkhan Parishad.
In their election manifesto, BCL leaders had said if they would win DUCSU polls, they would initiate a master plan to transform DU a complete residential university.
Asked about the matter, the BCL general secretary and DUCSU GS Golam Rabbani said, “New buildings must be built. Then DUCSU should be given the allocation for building dormitories.”
VP Nurul said he has requested the GS and AGS to stop using accommodation to exploit the students.
But, he added, they did not pay heed to him.
He also said many former BCL leaders, who are no longer students, have been staying at the dormitories.
The vice-chancellor just echoes the BCL leaders, he added.
GS Rabbani thinks that DUCSU’s main job is to promote literature and cultural activities on the campus.
He claimed that DUCSU has already done a lot and the students are enjoying the results.
VP Nurul said DUCSU’s key duty is to end overcrowded-accommodation and stop the ‘guestroom’ practice, remove outsiders from the campus and bring back democratic atmosphere on the campus.
It has been six months since the elections, but the 18 hall unions have not received any budget allocation.
Meanwhile, allegations of extorting from the hall canteen have been raised against some of the VPs and GSs of the hall unions.
But, presidents of the hall unions are happy about the activities of the union leaders.
Bangamata Sheikh Fazilatunnesa Mujib Hall’s VP Ricky Haider told Prothom Alo that they prepared a budget of Tk 4 million for the hall union, but they have no idea when the budget will be sanctioned.
Bijoy Ekattor Hall’s VP Sajibur Rahman and GS Nazmul Hassan have been accused of forcing the canteen manager out of the hall for not paying them ‘toll’.
Asked about the matter, the hall’s provost professor AJM Shafiul Alam Bhuiyan said action will be taken if anyone files compliant about the matter.
But, he added, he is quite happy about the activities of the hall union.
Like provosts of the student dormitories, vice chancellor of the university Md Akhtaruzzaman is also impressed at the DUCSU performance.
“DUCSU has organised many programmes in different ways and large number of students joined those programmes,” said VC Akhtaruzzaman. “This was our expectation.”
Though the provosts and vice chancellor are happy about the DUCSU’ activities, the students find no reasons to be happy.
Md Israfil, a residential student of the Master Da Surja Sen Hall of the university, said DUCSU has completely failed to meet the expectations of the students.
DUCSU, he added, has made no significant changes on the campus.
Ruqayyah Hall’s non-residential student Kanak Farzana said the situation in the girls’ dormitories is better than those of male students’ ones as no visible changes have been made.
*This report, originally published in Prothom Alo print edition, has been rewritten in English by Rabiul Islam and Toriqul Islam.