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DU VC assures of measures to solve accommodation crisis

  • Published at 11:53 am October 29th, 2019
First-year students of Dhaka University (DU) protest in front of vice-chancellor’s (VC) residence on Tuesday, October 29, 2019 Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka Tribune

I hope newly admitted students will not need to sleep in mass rooms in the future. We are working to solve the accommodation crisis in a planned manner, through measures such as the introduction of bunk beds'

The Dhaka University (DU) authorities plan to implement massive changes in order to ease the suffering of newly admitted students who are forced to sleep on makeshift beds in mass rooms, DU Vice-Chancellor Prof Akhtaruzzaman said yesterday.

The VC gave the assurance while addressing journalists after the publication of DU Gha unit exam results, as well as directly to the protesters in a separate meeting.

“I hope newly admitted students will not need to sleep in mass rooms in the future. We are working to solve the accommodation crisis in a planned manner, through measures such as the introduction of bunk beds,” Prof Akhtaruzzaman said

A group of first year students of Dhaka University (DU), who had been demonstrating to press home their demand for legal seats in residential halls, have postponed their protests after receiving the VC’s assurances of a solution in this regard.

Dhaka University Central Students’ Union (Ducsu) member Tanbir Hasan Shaikat, who led the protests, told Dhaka Tribune that a six-member delegation team met DU VC Prof M Akhtaruzzman around 1pm yesterday.

“After a two-hour long discussion, we postponed the protests as VC sir assured us that legal seats for the freshers would be arranged from the upcoming 2019-20 academic session,” Shaikat said.

"The VC also told us that the crisis will be solved gradually. The university has a massive plan to overcome from the accommodation crisis. They cannot arrange the seats for all freshers immediately from 2020, according to the VC. Initially, some of them will be given legal seats, and bunk beds will be arranged for the others in the mass room, which will be improved. The VC said it will add new dimension to the mass room system," he added.

"We will observe the steps that the authorities take. If the steps are not properly taken, we will wage a tougher movement," he added. 

Earlier in the day, the protesters staged a sit-in demonstration in front of the DU VC’s residence, demanding a permanent solution to the ongoing accommodation crisis at the residential dormitories.

The protesters assembled in front of the VC’s bungalow on the campus at 10:30am.

However, the university’s proctor team barred the protesters from entering the bungalow, as per their pre-scheduled protest.

The protesters said proctor team member Sudarshan Halder told them the VC was not present in the house at the time, and they were not permitted to take shelter inside.

Altercation with assistant proctor

Around 12pm, there was an altercation between Assistant Proctor Sima Islam and Ducsu member Shaikat, when Sima checked the identity cards of several protesters.

Sima claimed she saw two people come to the protest riding on a motor bike, and thought they may have been outsiders.

“I asked them to show their ID cards to confirm that they were students,” Sima said.

However, Shaikat became enraged at her checking of the IDs.

 “You cannot check the ID cards in such manner. You behaved roughly,” Shaikat told the assistant proctor.

He also questioned why she would check the IDs now, when the university had failed to stop outsiders from staying at residential halls illegally.

On October 1, the students gave a 15-day ultimatum to university authorities to solve the accommodation crisis.

The students also threatened to take shelter at VC’s residence if he fails to find a solution to the crisis.

Earlier, VC Prof M Akhtaruzzman in an interview with Dhaka Tribune said the DU VC’s bungalow is a heritage site and also public property, so anyone can enjoy its facilities.

As the accommodation crisis worsened at the university, Ducsu member Tanbir started staying with the first year students at Kabi Jasim Uddin hall’s common room, leaving his own residential seat empty. 

He also announced that he would not resume staying at his seat until university authorities provide legal seats for the students.