Women voters the deciders?
Candidates are campaigning giving special attention to female students who constitute about 36 percent of the total number of voters in the Ducsu polls on Monday.
The important electoral pledges of the contenders, irrespective of their panels and organisations, include ensuring safety of female students on the campus, bringing an end to sexual harassments, extending the time limit for entering the female dormitories at night and setting up medical stores with sanitary pads and other necessities available.
General students said the student organisations have less control on the female dormitories in comparison with the male ones. So, candidates are paying more attention to the female voters.
However, some female voters claimed that the number of female candidates was very low in the panels, though the students' bodies were coming up with ambitious promises for female students.
They blamed the “patriarchal outlook” of the society and poor practice of democracy for the situation.
“We are giving extra care to address the issues related to female students and this is why our panel has the highest number of female candidates” said Sonjit Chandra Das, chief of BCL's election conducting committee and DU unit president of the student body.
Liton Nandi, Ducsu vice-president nominee from the left-leaning Progressive Students' Unity, said, “We are paying special attention to make the campus safe for female students and wipe out all sorts of sexual harassments from the campus.”
Umme Habiba Benojir, Ducsu general secretary nominee from the Bangladesh Students' Federation, said female voters could play a vital role in this election, adding that they should go for the candidates who have specific plans to address various issues related to women.
According to the Ducsu website, as many as 16,312 female voters out of a total 43,000 voters will cast their ballots for 229 candidates, including 30 female students, from different panels to elect 25 leaders.
Pro-BNP Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal has nominated only one female student and is conducting campaign with a promise to increase facilities at the female common rooms and extend the time limit for returning to halls from 9:30pm to 11:00pm.
Progressive Students' Unity has nominated a female student for Ducsu election and promised to establish gender equality on the campus and cancel the existing time frame for returning female halls in the evening.
Bangladesh Sadharan Chhatra Odhikar Sangrakkhan Parishad, the platform that spearheaded the quota reform movement, with one female candidate on board, promised to force the authorities so that non-resident female students could enter the dormitories without much difficulty.
Bangladesh Students' Federation panel has promised to establish a martial art centre for females, a taskforce to hold trial of sexual harassment-related cases and medical stores with sanitary pads at female halls.
Swadhikar Satantra Parishad, with its one female candidate, promised to build a safe and sound environment for female students on the campus.
The Daily Star talked to several general students on the campus and majority of them hailed those panels who promised to take initiative for keeping the hall gates open till 11:00pm and stop sexual harassment on the campus.
“It has been very difficult for me to enter the hall within 9:30pm every day as I remain busy with tuitions till 9:00pm. So, I think it will be helpful for us if the elected panels stick to their promises about keeping the female hall gates open till 11:00pm” said Suraiya Akter, a residential student of the university's Ruqayyah Hall.