In the run-up to the Ducsu polls, the candidates made many lofty promises about solving the accommodation crisis and protecting students’ rights.
Six months into the long-awaited polls of Dhaka University Central Students Union, dormitories at the university are still plagued by severe accommodation shortage with many students still living in congested gono [public] rooms, where over 30 students live in a room meant for four beds. Some even sleep in the corridors and rooftops of the dorm buildings.
Many students allege that Chhatra League leaders are still in control of who gets to live in which room.
“First year students are compelled to stay in the gono rooms and take part in the political programmes while the authorities have virtually no control over seat distribution,” said a 1st year student, who lives in one such room at Shaheed Sergeant Zahurul Haq Hall.
“The BCL leaders use these rooms as a tool. It is easier for the them get a large number of students behind them by letting the students live in such rooms,” said the student of political science, wishing not to be named because of his fear of losing his accommodation at the university.
Moshiur Rahman, a 3rd year student of sociology, said most panels running for the Ducsu, vowed to abolish the gono rooms. But the pledges were forgotten once the election was over.
Ducsu polls were on March 11 amid allegations of irregularities and vote rigging. The previous election was held 28 years ago.
The Bangladesh Chhatra League-led panel won 23 posts, including that of the general secretary. The posts of vice president and social service secretary were won by Bangladesh Sadharon Chhatra Odhikar Songrokkhon Parishad.
“The Ducsu leaders are now busy promoting themselves using fancy words while the perennial problems persist,” said Montasir Mamun, a 4th year student of history.
Talking to The Daily Star, several Ducsu members blamed the top leaders.
“The VP is busy uniting his own platform across the country,” said a Ducsu member, requesting anonymity.
Meanwhile, protesting the Ducsu’s failure to force the university authorities to take steps, Ducsu member Tanvir Hasan Saikat has been staying at a gono room for more than a week. He submitted a memorandum to the Vice Chancellor on Thursday, demanding adequate residential facilities for students.
“All Ducsu leaders should have raised their voices to address the crisis, but we have failed to do this. This is why I am staying here, leaving my own room,” said Saikat, also a former BCL central committee member.
Admitting that they fell short of keeping their promises, VP Nurul Haque Nur said the lack cooperation from BCL-backed leaders and negligence of the authorities were to blame.
“They [BCL] have 23 representatives. We could do nothing without their cooperation,” he said.
Nur said the BCL was perpetuating the practice to be able to force students to get behind them.
However, Ducsu Assistant General Secretary Saddam Hussain said the students did not live in the gono room as activists of any organisation.
“The authorities give seats to a student when they are in 3rd year. The BCL helps the students live in the dorm,” he said.