Athens university shut down ‘until further notice’ due to clashes between police, vendors

The Athens University of Economics and Business, one of Greece’s leading educational institutions, has been shut down on the orders of the university’s senate following escalating clashes between police and illegal street vendors who sell their wares on the sidewalk outside the Patission Street campus.

The decision to shut down the institution came on Wednesday night and gates will remain closed “until further notice,” the university’s senate said.

The senate arrived at this decision following an escalation in months of intermittent clashes between police ordered to clear illegal street vendors from the area outside the campus and individuals inside the campus who stave off the police by attacking them with projectiles when the vendors seek shelter there.

Police are reluctant to enter the campus despite the lifting of a ban in 2011 on law enforcement officers being allowed on all university grounds that was passed in 1982 as a measure to protect free speech following the 1967-1974 military dictatorship that was brought down by a student uprising.

Even since the lifting of the ban, police have entered campuses only on a handful of occasions due to concerns over the backlash such a move could trigger.

Police believe that the individuals inside the campus who protect the vendors by attacking the police officers are extreme leftists and not members of the student body.

The university’s senate is due to meet later on Thursday or on Friday morning to decide on how to proceed.