Cumilla University: Shutting the university cannot be a solution

Prothom Alo illustration

Cumilla University authorities did not take any initiative to resolve the impasse that had been plaguing the university for several weeks. The result of inaction was so bad that the university authorities had to call an emergency meeting of syndicate and decide to shut it sine die and ask the students to vacate the residential halls.  

It cannot be said that this order of the highest decision making body of the university succeeded to end the deadlock. Most of the students are still staying at residential halls and they held human chain on the campus on 30 April and 1 May demanding the university reopens. The students raise the question that why their academic studies should be hindered due to conflict between the vice chancellor and teachers. The students said they have just returned to campus after Eid vacation and it is illogical and inhuman to ask them to leave the campus now.

Any conflict between the VC and the teachers association over any administrative issue should be resolved through dialogue. Both the sides have to adhere to the rules of the university. Just as unjust demands cannot be realized by coercion, universities cannot be run arbitrarily.

However, most of our public university VCs wants to run the administration arbitrarily.

The seven point demand of the teachers association did not have the issue of VC’s resignation. But the demand of the VCs resignation came to fore when he refused to heed to any demands of the teachers and locked in direct confrontation. Many senior teachers also resigned from administrative posts in protest of the VC’s stubbornness.

The confrontation between the VC and teachers has reached to a level of muscle flexing. Even criminal cases have been filed against one another. Our university teachers and highest administrative post holders have stooped themselves such low. Student organisations had so far flexed muscles to establish their control over higher educational institutes. Now the teachers have taken up this role. What can be more shameful?

The VC himself is a teacher. He should take the logical demands of the teachers into consideration. Even if any demand seemed unreasonable to him, he could have explained it to them. But when he does not do it and rather take Chhatra League leaders with him to show strength, it is bound to anger the ordinary teachers. Unpleasant incidents on the campus could have been averted had the taken the initiative to resolve the problem through dialogue.

There should be mutual respect between the VC and teachers. Why should the VC enter the campus with Chhatra League leaders? The ruling party student wing does not even have a committee. The general students should not suffer for anyone’s obstinacy or willfulness. In recent times, the authorities in Chittagong University of Engineering and Technology (CUET) shut the campus as the students waged movement protesting death of two students in a road accident. We think that was not a right decision too.

In Cumilla University’s case, the general students did not have any sort of liability. Why should their academic activities be hindered? As justification to shut the halls, the university authorities said ‘arms’ are stored in the halls. If so, we can ask that if the university authorities allowed armed students to stay in halls. It is totally unacceptable for the university authorities to try to hide their own failure by making the students scapegoat. Open the Cumilla University immediately.

Academic activities cannot remain suspended due to clash between the VC and teachers. We want intervention of the chancellor regarding this issue.