What students don’t say
While most alumni of Dhaka University will tell you that they cherish the time spent there, our memories are tinted pink, through our glasses fashioned of nostalgia. While students, at least in the last two and a half decades and perhaps more, students of Dhaka University have and continue to face some common problems. Let us make a handy list, for anyone with deep pockets who feels inclined to take up a pet project, like perhaps the government!
There is a University of Dhaka website, and it has fairy updated information about the contact information of faculty members of various departments. But other than that, in terms of other details, the website is woefully barebones, and not up to par with the prestige associated with the country's largest and premier public university. There are entire faculties of students and expert teachers with the requisite skills to improve the website. The project could even be fashioned into an internship programme.
The classrooms, common spaces and washrooms
The Dhaka University campus is very large, with numerous buildings, many of these new. Yet, compared to the number of students, the facilities remain inadequate. Although work has been steadily going on to improve the infrastructure, a marked disparity can be seen in the facilities available to students of the well-off departments versus those of the less in-demand subjects. Class times overlap, and there is a real need for more study spaces like common rooms and reading rooms.
For the lucky departments with strong alumni networks, funds are relatively easier to manage, and hence they can offer better infrastructure to their students. But for the other departments the quality and quantity of classrooms remain a problem. Washrooms also need further improvement, better and timely maintenance, and ensured cleanliness.
The residential halls
The problems beleaguering the residential halls of Dhaka University are perhaps the most commonly known. There is still an alarming shortage of rooms compared to the number of students, and thus issues regarding overcrowding persist. To make matters worse, there is a vice grip of politically involved students on those who are non-political, and assignment of rooms is something young student can be blackmailed or bullied for. There are many instances of first year students being thrown out of the halls entirely, by these so-called student leaders.
There is also a toxicity in the senior-junior culture apparent in DU, where a lot of times egos are larger than those who house them! The relationship between seniors and juniors is supposed to be that of cordial camaraderie peppered with respect, but in many places the meek or soft spoken, and sometimes the young and restless, get abused because of inflated egos and so called 'disrespect.' This problem affects the students staying at the halls far more than it does those who have homes in Dhaka or live in rented accommodations.
The quality of food at the hall kitchens and TCS and DUCSU have ample room and scope for improvement. The items offered, the quality and quantity per serving are all areas that students have concerns over. Increased transparency in the day to day running can also help improve things.
Career and Student Counselling
Apart from the career fairs organised by student bodies or associations, there should also be a faculty-wide career counselling office for students to access throughout the year. Apart from that, mental health counselling is also becoming of paramount importance given the ways things have progressed in the last few years.
Quality and number of buses
The university's fleet of buses is inadequate compared to the sheer number of students it needs to serve. Some of the buses also need refurbishment and better interiors with intelligent design to sufficiently improve the commuting experience.
Complicated bureaucracy and accountability
The DU bureaucracy is notoriously complicated, and slow to boot. The processes need to be streamlined, and information about all the steps needed for various tasks should be posted clearly on the website, and updated on a regular basis. Officials, and also a section of the teachers need to be accountable for the completion of their duties at the university, and timeliness of classes needs to be ensured.
Dhaka University is a place of pride for Bangladesh, and her students too, but to claim this pride with a right, steady and consistent improvement across the board are a demand of the times.