Student Union Election in Public Varsities

DUCSU polls to break deadlock

Md Solamain Salman

18 March, 2019 12:00 AM printer

After the long-awaited DUCSU election, students of other public universities are seeing a hope that election to student unions in their institutions will be held, breaking the longstanding deadlock.

The elections to Dhaka University Central Students’ Union (DUCSU) and hall units were held on Mar 11 after 28 years.

Student unions work to protect the rights of the students on the campus, promote their cultural activities and foster the spirit of cooperation among them.

Students under the platform of the central student union of universities and colleges played a key role in all democratic movements, including the language movement in 1952, Liberation War in 1971 and the anti-Ershad movement in 1990.

Student union elections in Rajshahi University, Jahangirnagar University, Chittagong University, Bangladesh Agricultural University and Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) remained stuck for decades.

College student unions also remain inactive as no election was held there in last several decades.

The authorities of the universities and colleges have been collecting fees from the students in the name of central student unions and hall unions though they have no existence for the last 28.

There are 49 public universities and several hundred government colleges across the country, but the student unions are not active in any of the institutions.

Sources in the public universities said the student union elections remain suspended as the administration of the institutions are reluctant to arrange the polls.

They said the government also does not want to face any new trouble that may arise centering the polls.

Apart from this, the student organizations of the ruling party are now dominating the campus. The authorities concerned are unwilling to hold the student union polls in fear that the result might go against the favour of the ruling party while the campus situation might be tumultuous.

The student union polls were held at several universities including Dhaka University at the end of the military era of Ershad. Afterwards, the Awami League and the BNP were in power in the last 28 years but they show unwillingness to hold the polls.

Dhaka University authorities held the DUCSU election on March 11, but it was not held willingly. They were forced to hold the election by the court order.

After holding the DUCSU polls, the demand for holding the student union polls in others universities and colleges become louder and many think that the locked door of student unions would open through holding the DUCSU poll.

One of the country’s top universities is Rajshahi University (RU). The latest RUCSU election was held in 1989-1990 session. Since then, the election is not holding due to the unwillingness of the university administration.

RU’s existing student organizations including Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL) have been demanding RU hall union and RUCSU election for long.

RU unit BCL president Golam Kibria said: “The RUCSU election was not held for the last 29 years. We are demanding the election for a long time. I think the university authority should take necessary initiatives to hold the poll soon.”

“We have already formed a committee regarding the RUCSU election. The committee will talk to the students’ organizations, and then they will give opinion to hold the polls,” said Prof Abdus Sobhan, Vice-Chancellor of the university.

“I also want the poll to be held as soon as possible,” he said. The election to the Chittagong University central student union and hall union is not holding for the last 28 years. The last CUCSU poll was held on February 8, 1990.

Students of the university alleged that the election to other organizations including CU teachers association, syndicate, and senate are holding regularly, but the authority is unwilling to hold the CUCSU poll.

Different student and cultural organizations including BCL, Chhatra Union, and Bangladesh Samajtantrik Chhatra Front organized several programmes demanding the CUCSU and hall union polls.

On January 14, BCL organized a human chain demanding the CUCSU poll while they earlier also submitted a memorandum to CU administration on August 27, 2015 in this regard. 

Talking to the correspondent, CU Vice-Chancellor Prof Dr Iftekhar Uddin Chowdhury said: “We are thinking about holding the CUCSU poll but we will take the decision after getting permission from the higher authorites.”

“CU is located 22 kilometers away from the city, so we have to take decision considering the reality while the election will not be possible without the help of administration and law enforcement agencies,” he said.

“We will hold the election after getting assurance from the authorities concerned.”

CU unit JCD general secretary Md Shahidul Islam said: “We want the poll but the co-existence of all students organizations have to be ensured before the election.”

He also said the authorities should free the CU campus from the grab of the ruling party’s student organisation.

The activities of JUCSU are also inactive for the last 27 years due to unwillingness of the university administration. Student and cultural organizations have been demanding the poll to ensure rights of students.

The last elections to JUCSU and hall unions took place in 1992-93.

BCL Jagangirnagar University (JU) unit general secretary SM Abu Sufian Chanchal said that “All the students” organizations of the campus including BCL want the JUCSU election as soon as possible.”

“I think the election to the student union is possible if the university administration takes initiative cordially,” he said 

JU unit Bangladesh Chhatra Union general secretary Ariful Islam Anik said: “The university administration had assured us of holding JUCSU polls after the national election but now they are saying that they will arrange the poll next year. It is not acceptable to us as all the student organization want the election.”

The election to Bangladesh Agricultural University central student union (BAUCSU) is not holding for the last 20 years due to reluctance of the university administration.

All the students organization including BCL, JCD, Chhatra Union are demanding the election but the authorities are not taking initiative to hold the poll, said the students

The last BAUCSU election was held in 1998. On February 24, 2010, the university formed a committee to hold the election but there is no progress.

BAU BCL unit general secretary Mia Mohammad Rubel said the students are deprived of many of their basic rights in absence of the BAUCSU committee.

“We urged the university administration to arrange the election as soon as possible”, he said

The student union of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) is also inactive for the last 19 years due to unwillingness of the university authorities.

The first BUCSU election was held in 1963, a year after BUET was established. Only 21 elections of the BUCSU were held in the last 57 years.

The latest student union election was held in 2001 at the university when Golam Morshed Lion and Hasib Mostabshir were elected as VP and GS respectively.

BUET BCL president Jami Us Sani said: “We want election of the student union at the university but the university administration is not cordial to hold the poll.”

“After the start of the process of DUCSU poll, we demanded that BUET vice-chancellor take necessary steps but there is no progress as of now,” he added.