If there is one thing that was confirmed during Friday clash in Parliament over the lawlessness that seems to have gripped Greece in recent months, it is that universities are the No 1 problem area.
In his initial address during the discussion – prompted by a question from the main opposition New Democracy party – and in his rebuttal, conservative leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis made two specific references to violence at universities and received no answer from Alexis Tsipras even though the prime minister had an answer for every other question posed to him. It is quite remarkable.
Anyone watching the debate would certainly have a lot to say about the obsessions determining the position of each side and the public relations stunts they pulled – and about how such an important problem became reduced to an exchange of epithets and insults. Nevertheless, we cannot but agree with Mitsotakis’s opinion that Greek universities have been transformed from a “haven of ideas to a haven of lawlessness” and wonder at Tsipras’s ideologically steeped response: “Lawlessness and criminality is not just Molotov cocktails, but also white-collar crime.”
The tried-and-true method of spreading the blame and muddying the issue only goes to serve the pockets of lawlessness that have established themselves at so many Greek universities. Incidents of violence have become an almost daily occurrence, the most recent of which saw two people attacked at the Athens University of Economics and Business (AUEB) on Wednesday night.
The rectors of Greece’s universities know that they’re sitting on a powder keg, that all sorts of criminal activities (drugs, guns, smuggling) are taking place in the dark corners of their campuses. They know that anarchists and criminals go hand-in-hand behind the scenes in a conspiracy of silence that has the tolerance of the government. Rectors who go to work every day fearing for both their own and their family’s physical well-being get nothing but exasperation and reluctance when they ask for help from the authorities.
That said, university administrations also bear a large part of the blame for the situation. Not a few rectors have opted to take a “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” stance for the sake of ensuring their political survival. They have backed down and even cooperated with the lawbreakers in order to keep their position rather than stand up to them with determination.
The result is that thousands of students (the AUEB alone has around 12,000) are hostage to some 100 or 200 people in gangs that instead of being contained and wiped out are being encouraged.
This is why the prime minister’s silence on this particular issue is so dangerous – the lawlessness at universities destroys education today and breeds more ills for the future.