In October 2016, one particularly astute professor (let's call her VC-aspirant A) received an intel “through reliable sources” that the government would soon appoint a pro-Vice Chancellor at Rajshahi University, where she worked. This was an excellent idea, she thought. After all, how could the second largest public university in the country operate while a post as vital as that of pro-VC remained vacant for years? She then decided to write a letter to the Education Ministry, arguing that time had come for the university to have a woman pro-VC, and that no one could be better suited for the position than her.
The Professor in question collected endorsements from seven persons, whose opinion, she thought, carried significant weight in deciding the second-in-command at one of the most prestigious academic institutions in the country. Her endorsers included two ministers and two members of the executive committee of the Awami League.
Since she was vying for a woman pro-VC, she secured support from the president of Rajshahi Mohila Awami League. She did not forget to mention that the president of the local youth wing of the ruling party had backed her. That was also a very important and relevant endorsement. After all, she would work for young students.
However, all her hard work was in vain; the ministry appointed another candidate as pro-VC, who, supposedly, had the qualification that matters the most—absolute loyalty.
When it comes to absolute loyalty, one particular Vice Chancellor (let's call him, VC B) has set the bar so high that others are struggling to cross it. He left his mark as a hardcore loyal academic when he served at the “youth” wing of the ruling party before ending up becoming the VC. He then created new posts of“special officers” to appoint 12 candidates who are loyal activists of the Chhatra League. “They were the most hard-working activists of Chhatra League; two of them even live in Gopalganj,” he explained.
When asked about whether their appointments might be discriminatory, he remarked, refreshingly truthfully, “There are no general students or job-seekers. Here at J**University, Chhatra League activists are the only claimants of jobs. Being Chhatra League activists is their special qualification.”
His loyalty was repaid generously. His tenure as the VC was extended for another four-year term shortly afterwards.
As a VC, you are inherently a VIP. Like VVIP VC C, you can be filled with such narcissistic self-indulgence that you can make an entire ferry wait for hours for you, even if the health of ailing patients—inside ambulances waiting desperately to get to the other side—deteriorates.
Even when you retire, your entitlement never ceases to end. News has it that a former VC, let's call him D, has refused to vacate the house reserved for VCs—that too months after his seemingly never-ending tenure came to an end.
After having served multiple terms since 2009, he fought—to his failure—to retain his position. During his tenures, he even created new departments to appoint teachers loyal to him, frustrating other loyal contenders who eventually managed to convince the lords that he was not loyal enough.
Another former VC, named E, was nothing less than superhuman. Whoever he fired was replaced by none other than himself. Last time they counted, he was holding 17 vital posts at the university, becoming the treasurer, dean of three faculties, chairman of eight departments, and director of several bureaus at the same time. Quite a multitasker! And, make no mistake, doing such phenomenal tasks simultaneously required a lot of resources. According to official records, he spent nearly BDT 10 lakh as VC and an additional BDT 2 lakh as the treasurer for “entertainment purposes” during his 165-day stay on campus. He spent money as VC, approved the checks as treasurer, and withdrew the money as himself. When you are loyal enough, interests can never be conflicting.
Speaking of spending and interests that cannot conflict, VC F, of a certain Science and Technology University, outperformed many. He withdrew money against vouchers that did not exist. Under his auspices, officials directly worked on projects (some costing more than BDT 1 core) that he had approved without having published any tender notice.
Furthermore, he never stopped dreaming, of pursuing his passions. For example, he launched a beauty parlour at his house at the campus as an income-generating project. Reporters found him carrying out the challenging but essential job of maintaining serials at the parlour.
Since he was the VC, it was imperative that he looked after nascent loyal activists. He did so by creating a special quota—which he named after his post—for them.
Even then, if you feel that you are not being able to serve your cause actively enough, you can explicitly associate yourself with the ruling party by securing a post in one of its sub-committees, as did four sitting VCs in October this year, hitting a new high even by their standards.
VC-aspirant A: Mossamat Hasnahena; VC B: Mizanur Rahman, VC of Jagannath University; VC C: SM Imamul Huq, VC of Barisal University; VC D: AAMS Arefin Siddique, former VC of University of Dhaka; VC E: AKM Nurun Nabi, former VC of Rangpur Begum Rokeya University; VC F: Khondoker Nasiruddin, VC of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Science and Technology
Nazmul Ahasan is a member of the editorial team, The Daily Star.