Regional Students’ Unions

Students’ Unions are always considered a vital support for regional students in a university. It is appreciated in a university environment where it plays a positive and developmental role for its students in a peaceful manner.
Recently, two main events have been observed closely in a renowned public university in Islamabad, where the Punjab Students’ Union had an intention of celebrating Punjab Cultural event. For that, for two weeks, students started to block the route of university transport, which is the main facility for the majority of students even for faculty and staff members. Intentionally, they closed the gates of the transport area and warned drivers not to open the gates per their schedule. They forcefully blocked the way of each bus for more than half an hour and used to dance to loud music. They even stood in front of buses’ windscreens and roofs to attract attention. The whole situation was so tense for those who had an emergency to reach in time back to their place and avoid the sunset. Especially, worrisome for females, who are the majority users of official university transport. At a side, security was standing but they couldn’t move them as students were on the point of holding permission. It was astonished to see, how they were arguing with faculty as well by considering their action right. Here, comes the respect towards teachers, whether they teach them or not. A few of them even spoke in a loud voice and refused teacher aggressively by joking and moulding her instructions of opening the gates. On the other hand, no doubt, a few Union council members forcefully pushed those students from the way, which showed their respect towards a female faculty member, who was not even teaching them. It is an appreciated act and shows the grooming of a student.
The point of discussion here is what type of permission was given to block the routes. Is it right to irritate and give mental stress to others forcefully? I don’t think so. This practice is not new, all students’ Unions have been practicing and following the same practice for a long. Why they are authorised to hold such a long demonstration at such a prominent place? It is suggested the authorities to designate a suitable place for gathering students instead of harassing and violating the discipline of the University. The security needs to be authorised to act accordingly on the violation of terms and conditions. On the other hand, it has always been great to see our students in a happy mood and participating in activities, but in a disciplinary way. University is a place to groom students and after passing out, they are the people who will be recognised on their educational affiliation. When there will be strict checks and balances, no doubt, there will be a change. For a change, there is a need to implement it with policies and strict orders.
By looking at the regular practice of these sorts of activities by students under their Union Councils, another incident was observed. A young orphan conductor from a poor family was brutally injured by students with iron rods that caused fractured ribs, legs, arms, and hands. He was left with bruised fractured body in the transportation area in the late evening. It was heard, that the bus driver didn’t stop for a student on the way to the University. That ignited the aggression in the student and he followed him to the transportation area, where he called 30-40 students to beat him up. This incident is alarming and forces us to think about the mental status of the students who almost beat him to death. By the grace of Allah, the conductor is alive but, in a miserable medical condition.
Observing these two recent weeks’ incidents, forces us to think, about what sort of power the students want to avail. Are they fully authorised to do vandalism, and do any sort of activities under the umbrellas of their Union Councils? No, I do not agree with this. These students need to be counseled. A few suggested steps would surely be helpful in grooming and paving the right way for students. First, defined rules, and conditions in written form; strict checks and balances on implementation of rules; Students’ Union Councils are suggested to take a counseling session for handling students’ affairs peacefully; powers to security guards, and one to one interaction session with University Students’ Affairs Committee.
No doubt, young students are aggressive and need to be guided in the right direction. We all are responsible for them to give them correct guidance. By implementing these steps, a bond, respect, sense of honor ship, and association would surely be seen among students. Just need to initiate honesty with checks and balances. Additionally, a strong bond between teacher and student needs to be built. Students need to be listened. If they are discouraged and not listened to, they will create this sort of aggressiveness. A young student is developing his opinions and we are equally responsible for listening to them, considering their interests, and learning each student’s learning style. As a teacher, we have the best interest of our students to shine brightly. They can not be left alone. They have to listen to their teachers and take their guidance, not as criticism, but as constructive criticism. It’s the need to realise these young students to act responsibly, sensibly, and maturely. Thus, in a nutshell, a strong relationship is required to be formed between a teacher and a student by giving them equal opportunity to talk and give opinions.

The writer is an award-winning columnist, researcher and Visiting Asst. Prof. (Ph.D. in Linguistics, Malaysia) at Riphah International University & Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad, Pakistan. She can be reached at saira.asad2011@gmail.com.

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