'What needs to be banned is violent student politics'
Serajul Islam Choudhury
Professor Emeritus, English, Dhaka University
I do not support banning student politics. What happened in Buet is not student politics – it is terrorism.
In the past, students led movements against colonial power and state power. But now student leaders are affiliated with political parties. The student wings of political parties are involved with tender-grabbing, extortion, and criminal acts like beating a student to death.
Student politics is not responsible for this situation – degeneration of student politics is. Students are not an isolated community. They will think about politics. They will raise their voice on national and political issues. Universities are not factories. Students will exercise their intellect on their campuses.
I think student unions should be autonomous. They cannot run as organs of political parties or the ruling party. Students should elect their leaders and run independently. But they can have an affinity with different political ideologies.
Banning student politics entirely also raises the risk of a rise of militancy. Militants may use this as an opportunity to get back to the front line, and things will get worse if madrasa students join hands.
Dr Imtiaz Ahmed
Professor, international relations, Dhaka University
What needs to be banned is violent student politics. If any student politician uses firearms or any other weapons, even if it’s a blunt one like hockey stick, that would be considered violent student politics and is a criminal offence.
Students can get involved with mainstream politics, but they need to practise it off their campuses. Student unions should campaign for things related to their universities. If they want to campaign for a national issue or an issue related to a national political party, they should take it outside their campuses.
Politics among teachers should be stopped. Bangladesh is probably the only country where the vice chancellor of a university is elected, not appointed.
It would be historically incorrect to say that student politics was devoid of violence a few decades ago. There were infightings then too, but not as much as we see now. One of the reasons behind that is – student union leaders did not have to deal with as much money as they do now. Corruption was not as rampant as it is now, so the level of violence was also not as bad.
Dr Syed Manzoorul Islam
Part-time professor, English, Dhaka University
We had high expectations after the liberation, but our system has failed us. The spirit of 60s politics was long gone when democracy was restored. The damages were done by the army regime.
Political leaders are corrupt to the core. If you look at the parliament, most MPs are business people – they understand profit and loss more than anything else. Students leaders learn from them. They copy what they see in national politics.
Banning student politics is potentially harmful. I saw many leftist student unions protest for the rights of garment workers and defend human rights. This should be the model of student politics. The student leaders need to clean their act.
The kind of politics Chhatra League and Chatra Dal practise is not politics – it’s sheer hooliganism. They need to garner the support of the general student. They need to understand from the agitating BUET students that the anger and frustration of general students are widespread.