Voice of the Youth
Saad Adnan Khan
Photos: Tahmid Syed Abtahi
The students at Buet taking part in the protest and demanding the resignation of the VC and Pro-Vc.
There is very little difference between Wall Street and Buet, except Wall Street is the hub of the richest, and the occupy exposed how the masses, the 99 percent, did have problems with the imbalances created by the powerful, the one percent. In case of Buet, it's more about reclaiming one's long lost home and space, and discarding the not wanted, the powerful, the one percent.
It's quite unnerving when you see the Vice Chancellor Dr S M Nazrul Islam of Buet making a statement saying that if he wants, he can sell off the university. He can hire anyone, and he doesn't have to account to anyone, basically violating and disregarding any idea of democracy and transparency to say the least. On July 12, 2012, Wednesday afternoon, around 4,500 students, along with teachers and other employees, gathered around the registrar building, demanding that the VC and the Pro-VC resign. According to students, the teachers never forced the students to join in. In fact the teachers wanted to solve the problem with the VC by themselves, and did not want the students to get involved. The teachers merely disclosed all the information to the students and made them aware of how the student body is also being harmed by the irregularities and activities of the VC. Later that night, it was announced that the university would be closed off for the 44 day-vacation, on the VC's order. It took only fives minutes for the teachers and students present there to decide to do the sit-in on their campus for 24 hours that continued till July 16, Monday. From July 17, they did the sit-in from 11 am- 1pm everyday.
The teachers listed out 17 demands, among which they stated that they want the VC and the Pro-VC to resign. The list exposed ways the VC has blatantly hired unqualified people for job posts over the years and also gave unfair privileges to some politically affiliated students.
Students on campus continue with their non-violent protest.
“When this one politically affiliated student of the Water Resource Department appealed to the VC directly, as he missed an exam for no apparent medical reason, the VC made the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) issue a fake medical certificate for that student. The CMO later confessed that he had to do so under pressure,” says Mahbub Hussain (not his real name), a third year student of the Chemical Engineering Department, preferring anonymity.
“Last semester, when Eshan, the graduating student of the 2006 batch, was beaten by three students, two of them were suspended. These two students however, got back with standing order from the high court. The VC postponed the final exams, and basically did a hold up until the legal processing for these two students were complete, so that they could sit for exams,” says Sarah Ahmed (not her real name), a fifth year student of the Architecture Department, preferring anonymity.
According to the constitution, a VC can elect anyone for the post of Pro-VC. Buet, being a comparatively small university, never required the post of a Pro-VC. The VC, however, introduced the post to hire Dr Md Habibur Rahman as the Pro-VC.
"The education qualification of the Pro-VC has been fabricated," says Ahmed. "It's an open secret that he has a second class diploma. He does not even have the seniority to qualify for the post of Pro-VC. Regarding the VC's background, it's another open secret that he has been a notorious VC of Khulna University as well. A cross fire took place under his administrative period, where a person died as well. He fled from Khulna and never went back."
“But the current VC has gone to unbelievable extents in misusing power and privilege for personal gain," says Hussain. "The registrar building is the most important building on campus. The VC and the Pro-VC have complete control over the activities in the building in the most corrupt ways possible. One of our female teachers was supposed to get a promotion six months back, but her letter got lost every time (3 times) she applied. If she had gotten the promotion, she would have become a department head today. It was later found out that she has an ideological conflict with the VC, which is why her letters kept getting 'lost.'”
Students signing the petition for the VC to leave.
To solve the problems, Nurul Islam Nahid, the Education Minister had asked the teachers to have a proper discussion with the VC. However, the teachers and students believe that, this is not a solution, because they stand strong on the removal of the VC and Pro-VC, for which they don't even see the point of having the talk.
"There have been discussions and meetings before with the VC, but he has always been an adamant person, not cooperating with anyone," says Sarah Ahmed. The VC appears quite comical as he raves and asks for “proofs” of his corruption and irregularities, when they are out in the open.
"It's quite shocking, how the government is still being so lenient and diplomatic regarding this issue," says Tahsin Kabir (not his real name), a third year student of the Chemical Engineering Department, preferring anonymity.
How long will it be till the government decides to take actions towards the VC, students wonder. More than 250 teachers have already announced their resignation. They will submit their resignation letters, if the VC and Pro-VC do not resign by today, Sunday. In which case, the VC has announced that he will hire new teachers. Also, thousands of students will stop attending classes once the teachers resign.
||The teachers and students took to the non-violent approach to carry on with their protests. On July 15, when thousands of anti-VC protesters (teachers and students)
marched in a silent procession towards Bangabhaban, to submit a memorandum, seeking the removal of the VC and the
Pro-VC, the police blocked them and did not allow them to proceed.
“I want to stay in my country and work here, but I seriously doubt that I can stick to this decision. I don't want to study here, under the VC and Pro-VC. If they stay in power, injustice will continue taking place. If my country does not support me and the other young students, I don't see the point of staying here,” says Kabir.
The teachers and students took to the non-violent approach to carry on with their protests. On July 15, when thousands of anti-VC protesters (teachers and students) marched in a silent procession towards Bangabhaban, to submit a memorandum, seeking the removal of the VC and the Pro-VC, the police blocked them and did not allow them to proceed. The protestors simply sat down then and there, and carried on with their protests silently and peacefully.
The protest by the teachers and students is not a joke, and the VC no longer seems funny after a certain point. The teachers and students want a safe and healthy study and work environment at BUET, and that can only be possible for them if the authorities cooperate with them.