The vice-chancellor of Brac University has announced on Tuesday night that he has reached an agreement with agitating BracU students after being barricaded inside his office during a third day of protests.
The protest began in response to the alleged assault of a former teacher of the university on Sunday.
The VC told the Dhaka Tribune: "I have come out of the building and accepted the students’ demand to form a probe committee according to their wishes."
The committee will start working from tomorrow, he said, before leaving the scene.
The students said they would continue the movement until the administration offers a solution that properly fulfils their demands, which include an apology from the registrar and his suspension, as well as the suspension of two other officials who allegedly assaulted the former teacher.
This turn of events comes after the students clashed with university security and administrative officials in the campus building earlier in the day.
The clash took place around 6pm when the students, led by the terminated School of Law lecturer Farhaan Uddin Ahmed, launched a sit-in inside Building no 1 of the university, keeping the vice chancellor confined within the building, sources said.
Later at 10pm, several teacher representatives, led by BracU Proctor Samia Huq of the Economics department, met with the students to come to a resolution of the ongoing protests. The students demanded the probe report be filed within 48 hours, and the three aforementioned officials, including the registrar, be suspended during the investigation.
BracU VC responds to students' allegation
Brac University Vice Chancellor Prof Syed Saad Andaleeb denied any allegation of the protesting students being attacked by campus security earlier on Tuesday afternoon.
“We have tried to get out of the building, but failed to as they have blocked it,” Prof Andaleeb said that evening.
The VC said: “We have received two different narratives from the students and administration. This is why I have formed a five-member probe committee to uncover the truth.”
“The probe committee, which includes teachers, students, and alumni, has been asked to submit their report within seven working days, but the protestors seem to be impatient, as they want a fair resolution within a day,” he told the Dhaka Tribune.
“They have kept me confined in the building while their demands are increasing day by day. They have not tried to understand that I am working in their interest, as they are like my children,” he added.
Prof Andaleeb further said: “As a chief of the university, I have to run it with the students, faculty, and administration. All of them are important.”
He said: “How can I suspend the registrar, because of their allegation, without a proper investigation?”
Meanwhile, when contacted, the BracU registrar refused to meet this correspondent to comment on the ongoing protests.
Students clash with university security
Meanwhile, the students alleged that members of the university security and administration set upon them and assaulted two female students while driving them out of the building earlier in the day.
A student of the Law department said: “After removing their ID cards, so that the students could not identify them, they pushed us out of the building. They shoved the female students and pulled at their clothing.”
“We have video recordings and photographs of the incident,” he added.
Farhaan said: “The authorities have sent the security guards to distract our peaceful movement. But it will continue until our demands are fulfilled.”
Following the clash, the protesting students positioned themselves outside the building, with the VC still indoors.
They said they would not let him go home without a proper resolution.
BracU students lay siege to VC office
On Tuesday afternoon, BracU students, led by Farhaan, laid siege to the VC's office, demanding a fair resolution to the ongoing crisis.
Several hundred students took position in front of the entrances around 4:30pm, keeping the VC confined within.
The students said they will not leave their positions until the authorities resolve the matter. They demanded the registrar issue an apology and called for the suspension of the three BracU officials who allegedly assaulted Farhaan, until the probe committee submits its report.
"The authorities are wasting our time by not responding to our demand, while we are committed to finding a solution that fulfils them," the students told the Dhaka Tribune.
[caption id="attachment_134119" align="aligncenter" width="1024"]
Former lecturer Farhaan Uddin Ahmed leads the BracU student protest for a third consecutive day, demanding the registrar’s apology and removal of two other officials for assaulting him on Sunday. The photo was taken on August 1 Mahadi Al Hasnat
Farhaan, who has been leading the protest since Monday, asked the students to block the VC office in order to press home their demand.
"They have terminated me illegally though my contract is yet to be over. The authorities certainly have the power to terminate me but it must be carried out through proper channels," Farhaan told the Dhaka Tribune.
"They must reinstate me in my position and accordingly make my job permanent," he added.
Also Read - BracU students continue protest
The protesting students also proposed the authorities form a probe committee which includes a current student, a former student, and two representatives from the BracU authorities, they said.
Shehzad M Arifeen, a lecturer of the Department of Economics and Social Science, who has acted as a BracU representative, said: "The students have offered some proposals as have the authorities. The negotiations are still ongoing."