It's time Student Unions are revived and reinstated
Karachi, July 2(The News): A majority of teachers and students share the view that it is time student
unions are revived and reinstated, in order to fill the vacuum created after the
unilateral and politically motivated decision was undertaken to ban them some 23
odd years back.
A large number of teachers in the university, who were
once members of the student unions in their heydays, feel nostalgic. They fondly
recall memories of their student days, when the unions were active and worked
for the cause of the students. They inculcated discipline and a sense of
responsibility in the office bearers and students.
The union office was
a place where the President, General Secretary, and their cabinet, managed the
affairs of the students in a professional manner. Universities and other
educational institutions allocated budget for the unions that was used by the
office bearers without any interference from the university administration. The
union would organise a student week annually that was eagerly awaited by
students and the staff of the university. Even people not associated with the
university, took interest in their programmes. The whole week was devoted to a
variety of programmes that included mushairas, student courts, debate
competitions, book-fairs, and many other events.
Prof. Pirzada Qasim,
Vice Chancellor of the University of Karachi (KU), while talking to us said, "Yes, the unions played a positive role in the university. I vividly
remember the days when student leaders were responsible people and acted like
thorough gentlemen, who knew their duty towards their fellow students and
teachers. But the scenario changed when other elements not suitable for this
high-profile trade took the main stage. They were the cause of the demise of the
When asked about his view regarding the revival of the unions,
he agreed, that it would be great to experience them again. "Yes, it could be
done if the student leaders behave in a responsible manner. It could be a great
idea, as the student community needs such leaders to handle their affairs," he
Dr Mansoor Ahmed, former Chairman, Department of
Pharmacognosy, KU, firmly believes in the advantages of student unions. "I am a
strong supporter of such unions. They trained students during the time they
studied in the university. People forget that with education, training the
students in mannerisms, their character building and grooming is equally
essential. These are vital elements that should not be neglected," he said
emphatically. Dr Ahmed also added that new students needed to be facilitated
when they enter the university. They are usually on the receiving end of
everything in the absence of unions.
Dr Tahir Masood, Former Chairman of
the Department of Mass Communication who was affiliated with the student union
during his student days, is also in favour of the student union's revival. "I
vividly remember the days when students were managing their own affairs in a
dignified manner. The union encouraged students to be academically strong as
well as good human beings and they were trained to be useful citizens once they
left the university.
Many students' parties in the university vied for
the coveted seats of the student union. On rare occasions, one witnessed a
scuffle break out among the students belonging to different parties but that was
never prolonged. I think the situation has worsened after the ban on the student
unions", Dr Masood said candidly.
Hina Muneer, an Honours student from
the Department of General History of KU said, that she had not seen the days
when the unions existed in the university but feels that it should be revived.
"My father also studied in the university and he tells me about the good old
days, when administration officials could not take the students lightly. But
that is no longer the case now. Whenever I have some paper work and have to
visit the administration building or have to deal with the staff, I feel that
they are not performing their duties well. They are impolite and sometimes
simply awful. We need unions to safeguard our interests and our dignity," she
Additionally, Nighat Rizvi, an M.A. final year student at the
Department of Political Science share Hina's views. "I feel that we need a
student union to give us a sense of identity and safety in the university. I
detest the behaviour of the university staff which is known for giving scant
respect to the students unless somebody goes to them with some connections. It
is not acceptable at all. It is our constitutional right and we want it to be
given back to us", she said frankly.
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