The Dhaka University authorities recently decided to conduct dope tests on freshers in a bid to keep the campus free of drugs. But the authorities are still not sure how the decision will be implemented.
A section of students welcomed the decision saying it will help to reduce the number of drug addicts in the campus while some said the decision goes against ‘personal freedom’, fearing that authorities could use the system to harass and oppress students.
The decision was taken in principle at a syndicate meeting chaired by Vice Chancellor Dr Md Akhtaruzzaman on September 1, confirmed Dr ASM Maksud Kamal, pro-vice chancellor (education).
“Now, the committee will formulate policies on the process, facilities, and its implementation,” Prof Maksud told UNB.
A seven-member committee was formed to formulate a policy for conducting dope tests with Dhaka Medical College Principal Dr Titu Miah as its convener.
Dr Titu Miah, convenor of the newly formed committee, told UNB that under the system, dope tests would be conducted in the university during the recruitment of teachers and admission of new students every year.
“Additionally, students can be tested once a year in phases. However, the decision must be taken according to the capability of the university, which is absent now. This will require equipment and manpower. We are working on whether the dope tests will be done at the university or any other institution, and how the decision can be implemented,” he added.
“Primarily we talked with Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University Hospital and they agreed to collaborate with us but further decision will be taken after approval of the university authorities,” Dr Titu Miah also said.
“Freshers or teachers have to pay their own fee for the dope test, with which they have to collect dope test certificate before completing enrollment. Dope test would be mandatory for all types of recruitment in the university,” he further explained.
Asked about what decision would be taken for those who test positive in the dope test, Dr Titu Miah said, “It is not final yet. University authority will take decisions in this regard. Maybe they have to take pre admission and post admission counselling from the university.”
Dr Mohammad Humayun Kabir, professor of the Department of Islamic History and Culture and a Syndicate member, said that the Deans’ Committee had recommended that the dope test be carried out on freshers.
“However, I think Bangladeshi facilities do not have such capacity to carry out dope tests on 7,000 freshers and provide results within two months,” he remarked.
A special report from an August 25 Deans’ Committee meeting was submitted to the Syndicate in which the committee made a few recommendations about dope tests of students, Humayun Kabir revealed.
The recommendations of the Deans’ Committee include developing DU’s own system for dope testing, and signing MoU with those who have the ability to carry out dope testing. Accordingly it also proposed that a committee be formed for these purposes.
It was learnt that the fifth meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Law and Order last February 17, chaired by Liberation War Affairs Minister AKM Mozammel Haque, had decided to make dope testing compulsory during the admission of students in all universities and educational institutions.
‘We are all against drugs’
A section of university teachers and students welcomed the decision saying it will help to check drug addiction in the campus while some havr opposed fearing that authorities could use the system to harass and oppress freshers.
Professor Lutfur Rahman, convener of the BNP-backed White Panel teachers of Dhaka University, said that the dope test is ‘unnecessary’. “I don’t think the decision of the dope test is logical. It doesn’t match with university’s overall situation,” he added.
Dhaka University Teachers’ Association president Nizamul Hoque Bhuiyan said, “I welcomed the decision. Everyone will be careful if the university authority will implement its decision properly.”
However, AL-backed DU teachers’ association ‘Blue Panel’ president Abdus Samad declined to comment on this matter.
Among students, Chhatra League Dhaka University unit general secretary Saddam Hossain said, “Inclusive social awareness needed to combat drug addiction. University should not take such a decision which will hamper students’ freedom and social dignity.”
Dhaka University Chhatra Dal convener Rakibul Islam said, “Thousands of university students are prone to drug addiction. This grim scenario can be replaced by implementing such a strict preventive way. Students are motivated to take drugs by their circumstance, He claimed.
Salman Siddique, president of the Socialist Student Front's DU unit, told UNB, “We are all against drugs but how the university plans to combat drugs is not scientific and democratic. Dope testing will not be fruitful. But the authorities can use the dope testing method to harass students, teachers.|
Contacted, VC Prof Md Akhtaruzzam said, "We are trying to uproot drugs from our society. It's not possible to keep everybody in check without an institutional initiative."
Drug addiction has grown into a serious concern for Dhaka University students. The university campus and its adjacent areas have turned into safe havens for drug addicts and dealers amid closure of the country’s premier educational institution due to the coronavirus pandemic.
On May 15, a Dhaka University student, Hafizur, 24, died as he hacked himself with a machete after taking LSD in the Curzon Hall area. He killed himself under the influence of the drug.
Besides, taking drugs is rampant in residential halls of the university. The addicts take drugs in groups on the rooftops and in the rooms of the dormitories when the campus is open.
Rakibul,a residential student of Sergeant Zahurul Haq Hall, said, "When the university was open, liquor or marijuana was taken in groups on the roof of our residential building at night. Student leaders from different halls took part in such activities."
However it is implemented, the dope test system will help to ease the existing grim scenario, he hoped.