University asylum bind

The government yesterday refused to take a stance on the thorny issue of university asylum, saying it was an issue for the judiciary and academic community to tackle, as the capital’s main university faculties remained occupied by hundreds of students and self-styled anarchists. Meanwhile university deans told Kathimerini that the sit-ins would probably end over Christmas so it would be best to leave things alone. «Lifting university asylum is not an issue for the government,» said government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros, adding that «those whose responsibility it is to maintain order and the smooth operation of universities will do their duty.» Antonaros was reacting to a decision by an Athens prosecutor on Saturday night to send police into the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA), which self-styled anarchists had been using as a base from which to attack riot officers. The planned intervention was averted by the NTUA’s dean, Constantinos Moutzouris, who said he feared the presence of police may reignite tension. «We believe that constant dialogue and persuasion are the best solution even in extreme, condemnable situations,» he told Kathimerini. A spokesperson for the senate of the Athens University of Economics and Business expressed a similar opinion. «The occupation of the university cannot be dealt with by summoning security forces,» he said, adding that such a move might «undermine any further dialogue with young people.» Opposition parties expressed a similar outlook yesterday. PASOK said »great caution» was necessary to avoid «pouring oil on the fire.» The consent of university deans is necessary for the lifting of university immunity, a ban on police entering university grounds in place since 1974 when the military junta bloodily suppressed a student uprising at the NTUA. Student unions yesterday condemned authorities for broaching the issue of university immunity, saying it was their «last resort.» Sources told Kathimerini that those occupying university faculties are anything but united and that disputes are frequent.

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