Two groups of students clash at university ranking celebration
In celebration of the new Places Higher Education (PHE) World University Rankings placing Shahbagh University – the country's oldest most famous educational institution – in the 601-800 range, authorities organised a seminar in the university's Teacher-Teacher Centre (TTC). The event was attended by every senior professor in the university, most of whom forgot to cancel their classes for the day. After almost 7 hours of peaceful speech giving, however, violence broke out as students belonging to rival political groups broke out into an armed clash. At least 47 students were injured in these clashes, with a combined total of anywhere between 601 and 800 broken bones, according to Dhoka Medical College Hospital authorities.
Eyewitnesses provided conflicting versions of what took place during the celebration, depending on their party affiliation. Some students claimed violence broke out over who would be allowed to stand in the first row of the audience when Professor Darth Vader, VC of the university, turned around and took a selfie with the crowd. Others claim the reason behind the violence was disagreement over whether Bidirectional University ranked higher than Shahbagh University or not. Many students who don't identify with any established political party, however, offered a far more chilling explanation.
"Arguments first occurred when the group of students standing at the eastern end of the auditorium realised their snack boxes contained biriyani with a full complement of a boiled egg, while students at the western end of the auditorium had only half a boiled egg," said Satyendranath Bose (not his real name), a third-year student of Physics.
"When one group of students started taunting the other over their lack of full eggs, mayhem ensued. Someone suddenly conjured up a 20-feet long bamboo and started striking anyone who came within range, plastic chairs flew back and forth like angry texts between exes, and many students started putting on helmets that they apparently had hidden away under their seats," said Humayun Ahmed (not his real name), a postgraduate student of Gender Studies.
Professor Vader, who chaired the seminar, expressed his regret over the incident, but still offered words of hope, "We must remember that this sort of activism, and physically violent involvement of students in ensuring their rights is what makes Shahbagh University students the Oxen of the East."
He visited the injured students in Dhoka Medical College Hospital and spoke to them, adding 3 more hours to his 4-hour speech back at TTC.
"Even though you are all in excruciating pain and unending misery over the fate that has befell you, remember that you are students of a university that has ranked between 601 and 800 in the world rankings! That fact alone should heal you in frightening speed! In fact, doctors, I implore you to halt medication and send these students home, you don't need medical atten…," he said, at which point the scheduled load-shedding began at the hospital's emergency room.
Student political leaders held rival press conferences in the evening at Poison Canteen, where they both promised vengeance against each other, as well as claiming full responsibility for the ranking improvement of the university.
"Students and parents can rest assured that we promise to continue this proud tradition of violence on campus," said Gayok Bhattacharjee, president of Bangladesh Students Group.
Gaddafi Hossain, General Secretary of Bangladesh Team of Students, echoed the thoughts of his rival, "We will ensure that this ranking will only go up in future years, by hook or…" he smiled as he finished, "...by crook."