The election will be held on March 11
Dhaka University (DU) has set maximum 30 years as the age limit for contenders of the long-awaited DU Central Students Union (Ducsu) and hall union elections.
The authorities fixed the age limit at a meeting of the Syndicate, the university’s governing body, on Tuesday evening, chaired by DU Vice-Chancellor Prof Md Akhtaruzzaman.
After the meeting, DU Registrar Md Enamuzzaman told reporters that voting booths will be set up in all the dormitories concerned in line with the Ducsu Constitution.
The elections are slated for March 11. The voting will take place from 8am to 2pm.
The Syndicate meeting also amended several sections of the Ducsu Constitution and cleared the electoral code of conduct following some changes, said Prof Rahmat Ullah, syndicate member and dean of the law department.
According to the amendments, all current students of honours, masters and MPhil — both residential and non-residential — who will not be over 30 years of age at the time of the election schedule announcement will be able to vote in and contest the Ducsu and hall union polls.
However, those who will not be eligible to vote are students of different courses, including evening/program/professional/executive/special master’s/diploma/Med/PhD/DBA/language/certificate; current students who are over 30 years old; students who are currently working for any government, non-government organizations or any local or international entities; and the students of DU affiliated and constituent colleges.
Additionally, an executive committee to oversee the Ducsu polls will soon be formed, helmed by VC Prof Md Akhtaruzzaman. The VC will reveal the names of the committee members soon, another syndicate member and DU associate professor Humayun Kabir told the Dhaka Tribune.
He also said through the amendments, 25 Ducsu posts are now official, increasing from 22 which existed in the previous constitution.
Several posts were updated, such as Secretary to Common Room and Cafeteria, Secretary to Library, Secretary to Sports, and Secretary to Culture. New posts include Secretary to International Affairs.
An electoral code of conduct has also been formed, which includes provisions such as campaign materials to be printed only in black and white, schedule for daily campaigning, CCTV cameras, prohibition of wall writings and more.
On January 19, the DU VC had formed a seven-member committee, led by Pro-VC (Academic) Prof Nasreen Ahmad, to draw up an electoral code of conduct, ahead of the Ducsu and hall union polls.
A total of 39 sub-sections are included under 14 sections in the draft code, which was issued by Proctor AKM Golam Rabbani on January 23, and reached the fronts on January 24.
Student organizations were requested to submit recommendations to the code to the proctor’s office by January 26.
The Syndicate meeting was held on Tuesday to finalize the draft electoral code of conduct after the organizations submitted their opinions, demands and recommendations.
Abul Bashar Siddique, general secretary of Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal’s DU unit, told the Dhaka Tribune it is not possible to hold a free and fair election by setting up the polling centres inside halls.
“Most of the resident students will not feel free to cast their votes as the dormitories are controlled by activists of Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL),” he also said.
The authorities only paid heed to the demands of the ruling party's student front, he added.
Md Saddam Hussain, general secretary of BCL’s DU unit, welcomed the authorities’ decision.
Nurul Haque Nur, a joint convener of the Bangladesh General Students’ Rights Protection Council - a platform that spearheaded the recent quota reform movement, said: “The authorities could hold a free and fair election, if they had control over the dorms. But it is an open secret that the ruling party’s student front controls the halls,” he said.
Progressive Students’ Alliance organized a rally on Tuesday to protest the decision of the authority to set up the polling centres inside the halls.
Ducsu was formed three years after the Dhaka University was established in 1921. Later, the student leaders were always at the forefront of major movements in the country’s history, including the 1952 Language Movement and the 1971 Liberation War.
Though Ducsu elections are supposed to be held every year according to the university’s ordinance 1973, there have only been six since Bangladesh’s independence.
The last election was held on June 6, 1990.