The much-awaited elections to the Dhaka University Central Students Union (DUCSU) have been held. Coming after nearly three decades, they should have made us happy. That they have not, that indeed there are all the complaints about the irregularities which marred the voting are matters the Dhaka University authorities must now take into cognizance. With nearly every student organization and group, except for the Chhatra League, opting out of the election because they felt the voting was going according to a blueprint should be enough reason for the DU administration to rethink the entire issue. There are too the opinions expressed by a number of teachers of the university on the irregularities as they saw them happening.
That should also be a good reason for the university authorities to consider the idea of a rescheduling of the voting, indeed of laying out a plan for fresh elections to DUCSU. The student body, properly constituted, should be the harbinger of a new era of positive and constructive student engagement at the nation’s premier educational institution. As it is, serious reservations were earlier expressed over the university authorities’ pre-poll decision to impose a ban on live coverage of the voting. That should have been done, for elections by their very nature, be they at the national level or at university campuses, ought to be free and transparent. The DUCSU elections Dhaka University has just gone through do not give people reason to believe were transparent, given that a large number of students have come forth with the complaint that only voters affiliated to a particular student organization were permitted to cast their ballots. Besides, at a number of halls of the university long queues of student voters waited for hours to cast their votes and no one was able to explain to them why such a long time was being spent in having them vote.
That nearly three decades went by after the last DUCSU elections in 1990 was embarrassing enough. Now that grave questions have been raised about the way they were conducted on Monday only adds to our collective sense of embarrassment. Conditions should not have developed thus, for the simple reason that students’ welfare has in the past been one of the responsibilities of the DU students’ body. Besides, with students of the university having in the past been in the forefront of all democratic movements in the country, it should have been for everyone --- political leaders, university administration and others --- to keep the wheels of DUCSU moving.
A tainted DUCSU cannot fulfill the aspirations of the students of Dhaka University.