Universities want better guards

University lecturers and rectors are calling for reforms that would enable them to increase the number of guards protecting university faculties and to recruit individuals who are better equipped – physically – to deal with intruders. According to sources, some academics are even proposing the creation of a «university police force» that would have the authority to monitor and stop suspect visitors. Another proposal reportedly under consideration is cooperation with private security firms, which some institutions have already begun. The current problem, according to academics, is that most university guards are recruited through the state’s Supreme Council for Personnel Selection (ASEP), whose criteria do not include physical requirements or special training. «This year we have had nine vacancies filled for us through ASEP, six of whom are women,» a university professor told Kathimerini, clearly suggesting that tackling potentially violent intruders is a task better suited to men. But many believe that, irrespective of gender, guards recruited through ASEP do not have the training to deal with intruders. «The most recent damage was caused by four of five gangs which infiltrated the faculty simultaneously from different locations with the aim of looting,» Andreas Yiannakoudakis, vice rector of Thessaloniki’s Aristotle University, told Kathimerini. Though looting of university faculties is rare, their occupation by self-styled anarchists is frequent and academics believe guards should have the training – and authority – to be able to stop ill-intentioned intruders. According to Yiannis Papadatos, an Athens University professor who was injured in an attack by self-styled anarchists in the Chemistry Department last November, the government must push through reforms to boost the protection of universities and their staff. «Defending our universities is not a theoretical consideration but an urgent need,» he said, adding that universities should «develop a structure and services that enable them to defend their operation at any given moment and against any intruder.»