This article has been reproduced from the International Student Movement (ISM) website. As well as providing inspiration for all who struggle for free education across the world, it has set off an interesting debate about (in)direct democracy on the ISM mailing list. A response from a Macedonian student organiser will be posted in the coming days. Stay tuned.
Shikkharthi Adhikar Mancha, a student platform at Dhaka University (DU), enforced a daylong strike on campus in their struggle for student union elections, the Dhaka University Central Student Union (DUCSU). DU, with 35,000 students, is one of the biggest public universities in Bangladesh.
On July 12, the protesting students’ platform gave the university administration a 72-hour-deadline to announce a date for the DUCSU polls. Since there was no reaction the students proceeded with the strike. Among others the entrances of the Arts Faculty and Business Faculty buildings, Curzon Hall, Annex building, and the Institute of Business Administration building were locked by students in the early morning. At around noon the strikers held a protest rally in front of the arts building.
Addressing the rally, the agitating students said, “The university administration is reluctant to hold the DUCSU polls for giving the ruling party-backed student body an advantage to establish their supremacy on the campus.” “The general students are being deprived of their democratic rights since no elections have been held over the last 22 years,” they added. They reminded that Vice-chancellor Prof Arefin Siddique had given an assurance of holding the polls but he has yet to take any steps.
In this context it is interesting to know that it has been the custom that the president of Bangladesh at the same time is the chancellor of all public universities (all together 89) in the country. For the past few decades the vice chancellors, who are in charge for the day to day business of the institutions, have been appointed by the ruling parties.
After the rally, at a press conference at Madhur canteen, a spokesperson of the student platform Nur Bahadur said they will organise a rally on July 29 to continue their struggle for democratic structures at the university. Furthermore he told reporters, “We hope the authorities will announce a date for the DUCSU polls before July 29.” “Otherwise,” he warned, “we’ll continue with tougher demonstrations.”
Meanwhile, DU proctor Amjad Ali said, “Their demand is logical, but they are waging movement violating the students’ right of participating the classes and examinations.” Typical, protest is fine as long as it doesn’t interrupt anything, annoy anyone, and can be easily ignored.
No classes reportedly took place in the university due to the strike. However, the scheduled tests at International Relations, Urdu and Farsi departments commenced on time, the university’s examinations controller Baharul Haque said.
During the Global Education Strike (Oct.18th + Nov.14-21st 2012) students, teachers, parents and workers will unite around the world in the struggle for proper democratic structures at schools and universities as well as for free emancipatory education!