A multitude of student wings of various political parties exist in our educational institutions. They are a challenge for the students as well the administration of an institution. At first flush, the existence of political bodies in a university seems totally repugnant but student organizations from institutions like Aligarh University had actually played a very important role in our struggle for independence. During the reign of General Zia-ul-Haq, the student unions were banned in educational institutions because of their negative, often violent, influence on the academic environment. These 'unions', no matter which political persuasion they may be of, are formed with one clear objective; they are to provide students with a platform to convey their views on all academic or non-academic issues to the authorities of an educational institution. That this objective gets lost in the 'ideological', and often very violent, battle between factions of various political hues, is a bitter ground reality. The recent lifting of the 24-years long ban on student unions has, thus, been welcomed by some but some others have also expressed reservations with reference to an amplified scope of campus violence that might ensue in its wake. They argue that due to the resurgence of these unions, we might see a return of the terror that constantly haunted the educational campuses in the 70s and 80s. These fears are not unfounded; students unconcerned with the political philosophy of the warring student wings have been mired unnecessarily in the campus clashes between them. Some lost their lives; some lost limbs or were brutalized so much that they were scarred for life. The incidents of violence also caused a collective deterioration in the prestige of educational institutions. -MUHAMMAD SHOAIB SHAKIR, Karachi, via e-mail, September 28.