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DU VC calls last Senate session on Sunday amid pandemic, draws ire from members

  • Published at 09:32 pm June 13th, 2020
File photo of Nawab Ali Chowdhury Senate Building on Dhaka UniversityMahmud Hossain Opu/Dhaka Tribune

Top administrators of the university, including two pro-VCs, will not join the session  

Dhaka University (DU) is set to hold its annual Senate session on Sunday, but without placing the university budget of around Tk1,000 crore for the 2020-21 fiscal year as per the vice-chancellor’s (VC) decision.

Several Senate members, including top administrators of the university, will not attend the meeting and have claimed that VC Prof Md Akhtaruzzaman is planning to serve his personal agenda, by nominating candidates of his choosing from the Senate to the Syndicate.

Rejecting the allegations, VC Akhtaruzzaman said the annual Senate session is going to be held honestly. 

Pro-VC (Academic) Prof Dr Nasreen Ahmad notified the university authority with a letter that she would not attend the annual senate session.

She said: “The annual session was going to be held for placing the university budget in the middle of June, when it usually takes place at the end of this month each year. Without formulating the budget, this session has been called on Sunday in a hurry.

“The VC came up with such a call amid Covid-19 risk to serve his own agendas."

Dhaka University Order 1973 (article 21) allows the DU VC to call the annual meeting up to 21 days earlier as the chairman of the DU senate body, consisting of 105 members.

DU Treasurer Prof Dr Kamal Uddin, who usually announces the budget, will also not attend the session. He said he has been under home-quarantine since he came into contact with a subordinate who is suspected of having Covid-19. Prof Kamal informed the DU VC of the matter with a letter.

The letter from the DU treasurer on June 7, obtained by Dhaka Tribune, also said faculties and institutes of the university could not provide the necessary information regarding their requisitions as the university has been closed since mid-March due to the Covid-19 outbreak. As a result, the budget is incomplete.

Pro-VC [Administration] Prof Muhammad Samad is also not attending the session amid risk of Covid-19 with the budget not being placed. 

Prof Samad, also chairman of the Finance Committee, said: “The budget needs to be approved by the Finance Committee and Syndicate before placement, but it is neither prepared completely nor approved by both bodies. The budget not being placed is one of my reasons for not taking part in the session.

“I am also not attending the senate session on June 14 as there is a risk of Covid-19 contamination in the air-tight senate hall. Furthermore, many of the senate members across the country cannot attend the meeting. It is not sound to hold a senate session while leaving them behind,” he added.

“Task descriptions and decisions of the last senate session, held last year, need to be at the top of the agenda for the session. The issue [of the VC panel election] has been kept in third or fourth, which lowers the dignity of the spirit of DU and is another reason I am not going,” he further said.

Prof Samad claimed: “Holding one of the top administrative posts of DU, how would I answer other members about such things? I am not going to take part in such a session, which is taking place outside the rules.”

He also said it would be honourable if the three DU syndicate members were nominated from new representatives of the senate.

According to DU sources, three empty posts on the DU Syndicate – the highest governing body of the university – will be nominated from among the senate members at the meeting as per the agenda.

The DU VC wants to nominate “his own men” and called the meeting in a hurry as the three-year tenure of 35 teacher representative senate members is going to end two days later on June 16, sources claimed.

Rejecting the claim, DU VC Prof Akhtaruzzaman said this allegation creates confusion and those who are spreading it have ulterior motives.

“The Senate will turn into an incomplete body after June 16 as the tenure of teacher representatives will expire. Moreover, five student representatives in the Senate, nominated by Dhaka University Central Students’ Union (Ducsu), will see the expiration of their senate memberships after June 22,” he said. 

“So, it will be an honour for the university to sit with a complete senate body, as it has been incomplete for many years,” the DU VC added. 

Prof Akhtaruzzaman further said: “We are holding the senate from our honest and generous motives. Some others have some ulterior motives and are spreading distorted information.

“The budget will be proposed later, not in this session, as it is not prepared,” he also said.

According to DU Order 1973, article 20, the Senate consists of 105 members. They include the VC,  two pro-VCs, the treasurer, five government officials, five parliamentarians, five distinguished educationists, five representatives from research bodies, five affiliated college principals, 10 affiliated college teachers, the Dhaka Education Board chairman, 25 representatives from registered graduates, 35 elected teachers, and five representatives nominated by Ducsu.