Among the earliest announcements of the coalition government was to lift the ban on student unions. The step was widely welcomed for obvious reasons. In the absence of live intellectual and cultural activity going on side by side with class room teaching there is a danger of even the best educational institutions turning into bodies that produce book worms who know little beyond their particular filed of study. Student unions can play a vital role in widening the horizons of the student community. It is through them that students learn their first lessons in democracy that include contesting elections and running elected bodies. Besides, the unions can provide a boost to the spirit of enquiry by organizing debates, cultural functions, seminars and discussions on vital issues. During the Zia era, student unions were turned into armed bodies and campuses made killing fields under a well thought out plan. The dictator was afraid of the youth joining the democratic movement and becoming a factor in his overthrow as they had in the case of Ayub Khan. In the first phase student organizations sympathetic to the military regime were encouraged to suppress voices opposed to dictatorship on the educational campuses. They were helped to win union elections by taking resort to force. Government agencies looked the other way as pro-regime groups introduced weapons in colleges and universities to intimidate their opponents. Scores of students were killed during the period. Later in order not to become dependent on a single student organisation, Zia encouraged rivalry between pro-regime groups, allowing each one to carve out its own fiefdom and turn this into a no go area for its rivals. In Karachi and Lahore hostels were allowed to be used as arsenals as well as places where one armed group confined and tortured the activist of the other group. The idea was to keep the students groups fighting against one another instead of uniting against the dictator. After 1988, political governments tried to discourage the armed gangs parading as student organizations from use of force. They achieved only limited success because the PPP and PML-N got engaged in a no-holds-barred fighting against one another. As the student unions are revived the government needs to formulate a code of conduct to ensure that campuses do not turn into battlefields once again. Within days of the lifting of ban on the student unions, there was an exchange of firing in a Lahore college between two rival factions of a student organizations. The government has to take urgent measures to ensure that incidents of the sort do not take place. Use of force under any pretext has to be banned on the campuses. Any organisation resorting to strong arm tactics must be declared unfit to contest student union elections. Student unions are meant to encourage debate an discussion. No one therefore should be allowed to create hindrance in the way of the peaceful propagation of ideas. In order to ensure that campuses do not turn into strongholds of bigotry and intolerance, organizations spreading hatred on the basis of religion or sect have also to be debarred from the student union elections. No self-proclaimed defender of religion should be allowed to force his own interpretation of Islam on others and to stop others from expressing their views. It is understandable that political parties should have adherents among the students. These parties would however do well not to monopolise the campuses turning them into no-go-areas for their opponents. The treatment meted out to Imran Khan at Punjab University indicates that the trend still persists and has to be rooted out. Unions are meant for common students whose primary aim is to study and participation in the affairs of the student unions is only a part time activity. Professional student leaders who join an educational institution only to take part in union activities or provide muscle power to a particular student organization have therefore to be debarred from seeking admission. As long as they are there, common students will be at disadvantage. Unions must not interfere in the working of the administration either. They should not be allowed to use their clout to get students admitted in violation of rules or play a role in the appointment of the faculty. As is the case of the members of the assemblies, elected officials the student unions too start seeking what they consider their privileges. In both cases governance is the sufferer. E-mail: