The permanent presence of police officers on university premises is proving taboo for professors, administrative staff and some student groups, judging by reactions to the government’s proposals for campus security.
One day after the announcement of the Panteion University Senate stressing the incompatibility of a police presence at universities with the free pursuit of knowledge, the proposal was flatly rejected by the senate of the country’s largest academic institution, the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (AUTH).
The government’s proposal to stamp out chronic lawlessness at the country’s universities includes an entrance card for all students and staff, as well as the creation of a protection team consisting of police officers who will answer to the Hellenic Police (ELAS) and the Ministry of Citizens’ Protection.
The AUTH Senate said that during its meeting yesterday different approaches were formulated regarding the initiative. The bottom line, however, was that security should be in their own hands, in line with “constitutionally accepted rules.”
It stressed that “guarding our premises and controlling their use is the responsibility of the university and, therefore, should be ensured by the competent university bodies and assisted by a university security service, which will be under the university authorities.”
It also added that financial support must be provided to the institutions to strengthen security.
Most universities have accepted the proposal by AUTH to place protection teams under the authority of each academic institution as this, it is believed, will mitigate reactions to such a force.
The argument is that the permanent presence of police officers on university premises, especially at larger ones in the center of Athens, will provide a pretext to students of various party formations and stripes, but also to outsiders, to create trouble in the name of so-called “struggle” against the powers that be, thus lending an ideological and political slant to their actions.
At the same time, however, the AUTH Senate called on the state to assume its responsibilities for the protection of universities from crime when they are unable to deal with it on their own.