Inconsistency, thy name is BUET | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, July 15, 2012 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, July 15, 2012

Inconsistency, thy name is BUET

Buet's Vice Chancellor Professor Dr. S.M. Nazrul Islam and his understudy are now bereft of even a friendly sane advisor or two to tell them that they should resign from their positions, as demanded by the teachers, students, and employees, to "save the institution," as is the popular publicised objective of every stakeholder.
It may be difficult for them to comprehend how things could have melted down to this bottomless pit in just a few months. But then this has been the fate of those who have allowed the beneficiaries of a past regime to become vanguards in the present.
Long may we have seen the last of it in national politics, but in the cocoon of BUET, bootlicking is a common practice. In the process, the righteous have time and again been dubbed partisan.
Nazrul Islam's poor reputation as VC of Khulna University in the late 90s and being on extension service should have disqualified him from consideration for his incumbent position, but unfortunately the political professionals, on whom the government relied on during the selection process, failed in their given responsibility.
Instead of advising the government resourcefully they succumbed to petty personal interests and living room friendships to shelve party, institutional, and national welfares.
Such camaraderie and back-scratching from within and outside BUET backed its last BNP-appointed VC to not only complete his term (whereas all other VCs were substituted prematurely) but to be appointed a VC of a private university during this AL government.
Professor Nazrul Islam is not the first "bad" VC of BUET. The legacy can be traced to BNP-appointed Professor Dr. M. Shahjahan, whose second-term reappointment in the 90s by AL was truncated by a teacher-students-employees agitation protesting similar anomalies as in the present.
At the time Nazrul Islam aspired to be the BUET VC being 26th in seniority, but the same teachers who were dubbed BNP-ites for their anti-Shahjahan stand, stood up vehemently against him, and the AL government appointed Professor Dr. Iqbal Mahmud, former State Minister for Agriculture and Forestry in president Ziaur Rahman's cabinet, as VC. That single action earned AL many star points, and the righteous teachers went back to their classrooms.
Incidentally, Professor Dr. Habibur Rahman, now BUET pro-VC, then General Secretary of the BUET Teachers Association, expressed satisfaction over the removal of Prof. M. Shahjahan and the appointment of the senior-most teacher as VC. (Source: www.dhaka-bangladesh.com, 29/11/1996).
Financial irregularity in consulting, appointment manoeuvring, favouritism for scholarship, concealing misdeeds (especially those by teachers), results tampering, fraudulent job applications, and such gross misdemeanours are adjudged based on whether the culpable is a student or an employee or a teacher (if at all), in that order.
BUET is extremely harsh on its students and employees in matters of discipline, but in the case of teachers it has always been a matter of how quickly the dust can be swept under the carpet, again depending on who that teacher is. It is always "who," not "what," in BUET; and therefore the inconsistencies.
There is this traditional yet deceptive belief in the BUET administration and among many teachers that to uphold the hallowed BUET image built over decades, it is necessary to portray the teachers as angels; that one bad teacher's story leaked to the media will sully the whole pail of milk. This attitude could stem from lack of social studies courses in the BUET curriculum (as most teachers are its alumni), an issue the Academic Council intermittently deliberated but failed to address effectively.
In 1974 a 3rd year Civil Engineering student forged the signature of the Medical Officer and submitted a false receipt of Tk. 112; he was expelled for life. Yet a teacher is serving as professor for over ten years even though the BUET Syndicate acknowledged that he has lied in his professorial application. The student-teacher inconsistency is BUET.
In the 1980s, a 4th year student was expelled for life for giving false information during his admission. Yet a teacher is serving as professor in the same BUET even after several falsehoods were unearthed in her application to professorship. But then the boy was a student, and she is a teacher.
If a piece of paper or jotting, related or unrelated to an exam topic, is found in a student's pocket or body, instrument box, or desk, he/she shall be expelled for one to three years. This is the harsh reality rule for students of BUET. Most VCs are guilty of harbouring this student-teacher discrepancy at BUET.
Having gone unchallenged in many of his decisions and wielding vain political clout in the company of his cheerleader lackeys, primarily because of its unique ordinance, most BUET VCs suffer from a sense of immunity. Senior professors do not want to rock the boat for fear of retribution or in expectation of undue favours. Junior teachers are merely the students of yesterday.
This is not the first instance that a BUET VC has excessively interfered with exam results, as the BUET Teachers Association will be giving the understanding. For instance, one past VC overruled the results of a department based on the judgement of as many as six teachers, formed his own committee, and had a resubmission and re-examination done; all without informing the department head. The beneficiary was the daughter of a BUET teacher. The present VC continued to support that malady.
Like any political government, Awami League will have nominated persons to important positions to run the country. Unfortunately, and as a gross betrayal to the nominating authority and party, some of them indulge in corrupt practices. Now, instead of placing sensible argument/s against the allegations to prove their innocence or non-involvement in the crime, the accused launches his weak "defence" with an poorer "attack" that comprises of calling their accusers "razakars," and "anti-liberation elements." All the heads, deans, and directors of a university cannot be so.
BUET administration and teachers and students allow serious moral issues to be swept under the carpet for their collective momentary peace, until one day the dust blows away the carpet, like now. Appropriate action has to be taken against all serious wrongs, not only that done by students, but against wrong-doings by teachers too. A teacher is a teacher as long as he/she is morally upright. BUET will be BUET only if it stands morally upright.

The writer is a former teacher, head and dean at BUET.

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