Things are coming to a head in the fight against chaos and violence on campus and it is clear that if the state fails to restore full order at the country’s universities, it will not just lose this battle but the entire war in higher education and beyond.
The “liberation” of Greece’s universities from the clutches of troublemakers and criminals posing as anti-establishment rebels is not just about getting them to operate smoothly again or even about allowing them to fulfill the function for which they were created. It also has to do with restoring law and order in entire neighborhoods in cities like Athens, Thessaloniki and Patra. The experience of repeated incidents of violence for several years now is proof enough of the spillover effects of the problem.
Any attempt to analyze the stance of leftist SYRIZA or the Greek Communist Party (KKE) with regard to the issue of so-called asylum seems like a waste of time at this point. (The asylum law preventing police from entering university grounds was introduced in 1982 following the fall of the military dictatorship but was scrapped by the New Democracy government this summer.)
It is clear that they want to safeguard an important aspect of “Greek reality” – or at least an aspect of the parallel reality that their respective leaders inhabit. Perhaps they think that there are political gains to be made from this stance even though the majority of citizens – albeit the silent majority that is, unfortunately, indifferent in the most part – wants to see these troublemakers brought to book and put out of operation. Even those who make a living, directly or indirectly, from the chaotic system of tertiary education want to see such groups stopped.
With its recent crackdown on illegal squats – which also served as the dens of troublemakers and criminals – the government appears to have the willpower and the ability to take the initiative. Now it needs to persist with this policy, perhaps even by increasing the pressure on those whose sole intent is to tear everything down and create chaos – either because this is dictated by their ideology or because it’s an effective shield for their illegal and profitable activities.
If the government backs down and fails to fully lance the boil of lawlessness and violence on and around Greece’s university campuses, the education system will never recover or improve, and cities will continue to be at the mercy of deliberate acts of vandalism and crime.