An open letter published by five respected Greek academics and politicians calls for the abolition of a law preventing police from entering university grounds and an end to tolerance of campus violence.
“Tolerance of violence has turned into complicity,” Paris-based Byzantologist Helene Glykatzi-Ahrweiler, political historian Thanos Veremis, former education ministers Marietta Giannakou and Anna Diamantopoulou, and ex-Onbudsman Nikiforos Diamantouros say in the letter, which was made public on Wednesday.
The university asylum law, they argue, stems from the Renaissance and was not created in order to protect “pernicious behavior” on campus, as self-styled anarchists running rampant at Greece's universities “like to claim,” but in order to “grant professors complete freedom in their teaching program choices by forbidding any form of intervention by church or politics.”
The letter comes in response to escalating threats against Athens School of Philosophy Professor Maria Efthymiou, who is being subjected to a campaign of public vilification by a self-professed anarchist group that appears to object to her views and opinions. It also refers to a physical assault on Panteion University Professor Angelos Syrigos in 2017 by three students who took issue with the academic when he scolded them for scrawling slogans on a freshly-painted campus wall.
The missive goes on to mention “attempts to obstruct the operation of academic institutions,” referring to a number of incidents in recent months involving students or unenrolled individuals barging into senate meetings, threatening administrators and vandalizing university property.
“Almost every higher education institution in the country has been through such a deplorable experience, without there being an effective official reactions,” the signatories say, adding that anyone who obstructs the production and propagation of knowledge is “an enemy of civilization.”