Ducsu Election: VC to remain all powerful
Ignoring the demand from most student bodies, the Dhaka University syndicate yesterday decided to set up polling stations at student dormitories for the March 11 Ducsu election.
The university's highest governing body didn't curtail the “excessive power” of the Ducsu president, a position held by the vice-chancellor under the union charter, students bodies alleged.
Under the existing charter, the VC can dissolve the elected body or sack any of its memner arbitrarily. This cannot even be challenged in any court.
The authorities also decided to enhance the polls participation requirement up to MPhil students, aged below 30, who had entered the university through admission tests for four-year bachelor's degrees.
The decisions came at a DU syndicate meeting at Nabab Nawab Ali Chowdhury Senate Bhaban.
Student bodies, including the pro-Awami League Chhatra League, have been pressing for changing the Dhaka University Central Students Union (Ducsu) charter provisions regarding candidacy and voter requirement.
DU acting registrar Md Enamuzzaman said, “Students from PhD, diploma and evening courses, seven public colleges affiliated with the university and those in government or non-government jobs will not be eligible to be voters or candidates in the coming Ducsu election.”
The authorities would take initiatives to amend the Ducsu constitution and details on this would be declared soon, he told journalists after the meeting.
Different student bodies, except for the BCL, criticised the authorities' reluctance to fulfill their demands.
Abul Bashar Siddique, DU Chhatra Dal general secretary, alleged that the authorities were working in favour of the BCL and holding a free and fair election would not be possible by setting up polling centres at the halls.
“Most of the students will not feel free to cast votes at dormitories as Chhatra League activists control those,” he added.
Nurul Haque Nur, joint convener of Bangladesh Sadharan Chhatra Adhikar Sangrakkhan Parishad, said, “If Chhatra League controls the dormitories on the polling day, supporters of pro-opposition student organisations will not be able to cast their votes freely.”
He also slammed the senate decision for fixing an age limit for candidacy saying that the authorities made such a decision to give advantage to a particular student body.
However, DU BCL General Secretary Saddam Hossain said they welcomed the syndicate's decisions.
Meanwhile, Progressive Student Alliance, a platform of leftist student organisations, brought out a procession on the campus last night, protesting the decision of setting polling centres at halls.
On January 6, the DU authorities formed a five-member committee, headed by Prof Mizanur Rahman, to bring necessary amendments to the Ducsu charter.
Four days later, the authorities held a meeting with all student organisations and sought written recommendations from them.
Later, student leaders submitted proposals to amend the charter.
On January 17, the committee submitted its report suggesting the DU keep only regular students (up to Master's) as eligible for candidacy and voter. But it included the provision for 30-year age limit just before the syndicate meeting yesterday, said sources.
Yesterday's meeting also approved some changes to the election code of conduct, including taking permission from the DU authorities 24 hours prior to holding any rally and meeting by a student body. Under the existing provisions, the time frame is 48 hours, the DU acting register said.
Candidates will be allowed to conduct electioneering between 10:00am to 12:00am every day. More CCTV cameras will be installed at the dormitories if needed. Any buildings, walls and transport cannot be used for graffiti or pasting posters, he added.
Since the last Ducsu was formally dissolved in 1998, several attempts had been made to arrange the election, but discontent among student leaders created bars to holding the polls.
The last elections to Ducsu and hall unions were held in 1990.