The tenure of the last Dhaka University Central Students' Union (DUCSU) expired in June 2020. And since then, there have been no DUCSU elections at Dhaka University (DU). However, every DU student has to pay an annual fee of Tk 60 for DUCSU and another Tk 60 for the hall student union. It is a small amount of money but it gives students a message that the DU authorities are charging them for the organisation that does not exist. It is understandable that DUCSU polls could not be held in 2020 and 2021 due to Covid-19 pandemic. But why didn't the DU authorities take initiatives to hold the election in 2022? And this year too, they do not seem to have any plans to hold the election. Interestingly, DUCSU is the only DU organisation that does not see regular elections. The DU authorities conduct elections for other organisations like DU teachers' union or officers' union on a regular basis.
DUCSU is a students' representative body. It is supposed to act as a bridge between general students and the university authorities. And it should ensure that students' problems are heard and resolved. It is not the student wing of a political party. Rather, it is a panel of elected student leaders who are supposed to help students irrespective of their political identity. Due to the absence of DUCSU election, student politics at DU and other universities in the country has practically been hijacked by political parties. Many university students do not even know that one can do student politics for the betterment of students without the support of a political party. As a matter of fact, now student politics no longer serves general students; rather it works as an effective tool for political parties to control university campuses.
Bangladesh, however, has a rich history of student politics. From language movement in 1952, mass upsurge in 1969, liberation war in 1971 to the removal of military dictatorship in 1990, students were the driving force of every movement. And they stood by common people in every critical situation of the country. No doubt, DUCSU leaders played a prominent role during those movements by organising the students. The student union also produced a number of high-profile student leaders who later emerged as our national leaders. If DUCSU and other student union polls are not held regularly, we will soon find a dearth of national leaders. We should remember that student unions are the best training ground for future politicians. The leaders, who do not have such training, lack the understanding of socio-cultural realities to rule a country.
Student unions serve as nurseries of democracy. They promote exchange of ideas and healthy debate among the youth. They nurture the spirit to respect difference of opinion. So, we should raise our voice not only for DUCSU election, but for other student council elections in all higher educational institutions. And if the DU authorities do not have the capacity to hold DUCSU elections, they should make it clear to their students. And, at the same time, they should not collect fees from the students in the name of student council.