Greece’s universities are increasingly coming into the grips of lawlessness, as evidenced by a spike in attacks on students and staff.
The assaults, most of which go unreported, are apparently ideologically motivated and carried out by individuals who have no affiliation to the institutions – often self-styled anarchists occupying parts of campuses.
Speaking to Kathimerini on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals, an academic at Athens University’s Law School described how a postgraduate working as an exam supervisor was recently threatened by a squatter after he stepped in to stop the latter from beating up a student.
Authorities have since advised the PhD student and the victim, allegedly a member of a political youth organization detested by far-left groups, to stay away from the campus for a certain period of time.
In another incident, a guard at Democritus University in the northern city of Xanthi was recently assaulted by a group of youths after he asked them to leave the premises for the night. The assailants, believed to be self-styled anarchists aged 14 to 15, allegedly threw a bottle at the guard before shoving him to the floor.
“We believe such incidents should not be made public, as off-campus groups feed on publicity,” a rector told Kathimerini, referring to members of a far-left organization that recently vandalized the office of a professor that participated in a seminar organized by a multinational firm.
In another incident at the Athens University of Economics and Business, two people, including an administrator, were last week injured in an attack by around eight youths occupying part of the campus.
Reactions are dampened by fear.
“People have come to believe that becoming involved is a lost cause. Others may find out they testified and beat them up,” an academic said.
University authorities have refrained from bumping up security with measures like campus police or guarded entrances, saying that their effectiveness relies on commitment from a higher level.
“The solution is political,” said another academic.
Education Minister Costas Gavroglou, however, does not appear to see cause for concern. Speaking in Parliament recently he said there was no such thing as “a climate of lawlessness” at Greek universities.