The decision made by the university authorities to hold exams while keeping the residential halls closed, has agitated the students. The authorities released the schedule for exams without opening the dormitories. Students staged several protests and formed human chains in separate places, against the decision. Such a whimsical decision of the authorities, or the government to be precise, has put the students in serious problems.
All the educational institutions of the country have been shut since 17 March 2020 due to coronavirus outbreak. Although many educational institutions started online classes, many of the students could not avail the opportunity, especially those who did not have access to internet. A lot of students have arranged accommodation near the varsity campus to participate in the online classes. The students demanded that the authorities should open the dormitories since they have decided to hold the exams physically. This is a justified demand. The students of Shahjalal University of Science and Technology, Sylhet have staged a sit-in programme for the past two days. The students of Chattogram, Rajshahi, Khulna and Barishal University have continued their protests in demand of reopening the dormitories immediately.
The clash between the students and local villagers started over cricket at Jahangirnagar University but later it turned into a protest to open the halls. Since the announcement of the closure of the university, more than five hundred students have been renting messes in nearby villages to join in online classes. Earlier, the students had demanded to open the halls several times but the authorities did not take this into cognizance. They took position in front of the vice-chancellor's residence on Saturday demanding the opening of the halls on Thursday. But vice-chancellor Farzana Islam did not even feel the need to meet and pacify them.
Motahar Hossain, president of the university's presiding committee, said, "We are not in charge of opening the halls. The halls will be opened if the government decides.” This argument of the university administration could not reassure the students. The students then broke the locks and occupied eight boys' halls. Girls did not stay in the dormitories as they were few in number. Earlier, the same situation had arisen in polytechnic institutes. Students from far and wide came to take the test and found the halls closed. They were forced to spend two days and nights in the open. The dormitory of the polytechnic institute was opened after the news and editorial was published in Prothom Alo. Dhaka University authorities have also decided to open the halls from 16 March for the convenience of students.
We think that the opening of residential halls of all higher schools should be taken into consideration while the educational activities are going on, especially in those educational institutions where examination schedules have been announced. If the authorities decide to take examination of the students physically, there should be no obstacle to open the halls. If necessary, every student should be inoculated before entering the dormitory. The education system of the country cannot be closed indefinitely.
University authorities are seeking the government's permission to open the halls. It is their responsibility, not the students', to get that permission. If the Dhaka University administration can decide to open the hall after a meeting, why can't other educational institutions?