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The plight of ‘Ganoroom’

Accommodation conundrum at DU

Published : 11 Sep 2019 09:17 PM | Updated : 01 Sep 2020 07:41 AM

Sufferings of Dhaka University students being forced to stay in ‘Ganoroom’, meaning mass room, is beyond description. The Dhaka University which once was called the ‘Oxford of the East’ has now plunged into the severe problem called ‘Ganoroom’ where about 30-40 students are compelled to stay in unliveable conditions in stinky places, struggling with multiple problems, including bullying.

A section of Dhaka University students has recently protested through seeking an immediate end to the ‘Ganoroom’ system, and for measures to resolve accommodation crisis in the university halls. The movement intensified after DUCSU member as well as Chhatra league central leader, Tanvir Hasan Saikot left his legal accommodation and began staying at ganoroom with fresher students protesting silently.

Resident students of first and second semesters mainly continue to suffer the brunt of seat crisis compounded by a good number of former students still occupying rooms at the halls. Over 1,000 male students have been living in inhumane conditions at different dormitories. The crisis is acute especially at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Hall, Muktijoddha Ziaur Rahman Hall, Haji Mohammad Muhsin Hall, Sir AF Rahman Hall and Salimullah Muslim Hall. There, over 500 students staying in mosques, corridors and 'Gono' rooms, four bedrooms used to accommodate 30 to 32 boarders.

But none of hall and university authorities seems much concerned about their plight. There has been hardly any effort from the administration to accommodate the students by evicting the former students, Talking to Bangladesh Post, several students living at the makeshift shelters said they could have comfortably stayed at the halls had the authorities forced the illegal occupants out.

Due to lack of space, their clothes, certificates and other important academic documents have to be kept in trunks outside their rooms amid the risk of being stolen or misplaced. ‘Laden Cave’ as the students termed the ‘Ganoroom’ of Master Da’ Surjasen Hall is where 60 students live. A freshman of the room said, “I’ve never ever imagined that I would live in such a condition. I can’t sleep at night because of overcrowding and bedbugs. The atmosphere is so unhealthy that students suffer from various diseases including allergies.”

A resident of Muhsin Hall said, “I can’t concentrate on my studies due to political programmes. On the other hand, the reading room of our hall does not have adequate chairs.” The students said there are a lot of non-students, guests and those who have already completed their graduation living in the dormitories. If the hall authorities took steps against them, the seat crisis would greatly end.

While visiting various halls of the university, this correspondent witnessed that such activities were rampant at night. When contacted, several hall provosts said, they don’t have any idea about the matter while some others said they would look into it. The Dhaka University (DU) students have long been speaking out against the Ganorooms and Guestrooms, but so far no action has been taken to stop such illegal activities.

According to them, they expected that DUCSU will do something to eliminate these problems, but it has completely failed. DUCSU member Tanvir Hasan Saikot on September 5 submitted a memorandum to vice-chancellor, proposing ‘double-decker’ seats instead of flooring and building multistep residential halls to ease the situation.

Asked to comment on these issues, DU Vice-Chancellor (VC) Prof Md Akhtaruzzaman told Bangladesh Post, “We have already informed the government about the accommodation crisis, but there is no space to construct new buildings. There are some barriers to implementing new projects.”

The DU Central Students Union (DUCSU) AGS and BCL DU unit General Secretary Saddam Hossain said: “To resolve the problems, the university needs to be transformed into a full-fledged residential university.” “DUCSU, the university administration and Chhatra League will work together to protect the rights of the students,” he added.