Although the tension over the DUCSU election receded following the assurance of Dhaka University authorities, unrest persists in at least three other universities of the country. Students of Barishal University have been demonstrating for the last two weeks, demanding resignation of the vice chancellor. Academic activities of the university have been postponed as a result, and there is no certainty as to when it will resume. Students declared that they would continue their movement as long as the VC is not removed or sent on leave.
Meanwhile, two factions of the ruling party student wing Bangladesh Chhatra League have been observing a strike at Chittagong University protesting the arrest of six of their fellow activists with firearms. They also blocked the university’s shuttle train for students and bus services for teachers. Students of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Science and Technology University (BSMRSTU) of Gopalganj have been demonstrating for removal of Computer Science and Engineering department’s teacher Md Akkas Ali, who has been accused of sexual harassment of two female students. The authorities suspended him temporarily, but the students continue demonstration over 5-point demand. They are pressing for permanent removal of the accused teacher.
Apart from these three universities, tension prevails in some other universities due to factional clashes of BCL. The student organisation is at loggerheads with the authorities in Kusthia University. However, the nonchalance of the government, education ministry or the respective universities over these incidents is a matter of concern. A stitch of time saves nine and so had the Barisal University authorities not shut the university and asked the students to vacate the residential halls within 24 hours at the very beginning of the demonstration, the situation would not have exacerbated to the current extent. The students primarily demanded that the VC expunge his insulting remark about them. But they now demand his removal. The VC not only reprimanded the students, but also alleged that their movement was instigated by Jamaat and Shibir.
Neither can the CU authorities shun their responsibility about the situation created there. The way a candidate of a teachers' recruitment test at the university was abducted by BCL activists on the day of his viva voce recently is nothing but criminal offence. But the CU authorities did not take any action against BCL activists over the incident. CU proctor said that BCL is demonstrating to take undue advantage. We can ask the university’s authorities where that sense of ethics was during the abduction of the candidate.
Deadlock in these three universities cannot but worry us. The loss incurred by closure of academic activities in a university for a single day is unfathomable. In recent times, we have seen what kind of situation is created when a VC is appointed only based on his political allegiance instead of merit and qualification. This can no longer be accepted.
A VC loses moral ground to remain in post when he declares that being a BCL activist is the lone criteria of teacher recruitment or no organisations other than BCL is acceptable in campus. He should take a party post instead.
Effective measures should be taken immediately to resolve the deadlock in three universities.