NEWS

Make us feel the buildings are worth protecting

In 1991, we said that the prytaneum was burnt by anarchists. Later we wondered whether to blame the prosecutor, who got tangled up in the law on campus asylum, the regional governor who didn’t rush to put the fire out, university authorities who hesitated to act, politicized students who say the university is for study but use it as an open forum for social ferment, or even the silent majority of naive students who are satisfied with degrees that can’t compete internationally because nothing is taught due to sit-ins. When we restored the building, we repaired all earlier damage and removed every trace of smoke, every drop of paint thrown by hotheaded youths, but we didn’t solve the problem. Seventeen years on, the newly restored Averoff Building was vandalized by outsiders that have used the building for years. Who was to blame, the usual suspects, or the lecturers who didn’t teach the students martial arts so that they could protect the building? After almost two centuries as a republic, we fear for our monuments, but who will protect them? Those who sold their homes for a flat in an apartment block? Those who did not absorb the Bavarian neoclassical and postwar modernism of the new capital? Those who live crammed into the wretched apartment blocks that have ruined every Greek city? How can people held back by generations of poor education understand that destroying monuments also destroys memory and vision. The university authorities should have the courage to use the laws to protect monuments to scholarship and culture and make us also feel they are worth protecting.