Deadline for university sit-in

Protesters occupying the administrative offices of Thessaloniki’s Aristotle University must end their sit-in today or face order being removed «by all legal means,» as the university senate warned last Friday. As the senate’s deadline loomed yesterday – along with the possibility of police intervention on campus – the new president of the Panhellenic Federation of University Teachers’ Associations (POSDEP) condemned the protesters’ action in a letter to the university’s rector Anastassios Manthos. «Such activities strike at the heart of the state university and serve, intentionally or otherwise, whatever mercenary interests try to fill the void,» Nikolaos Stavrakakis said in his letter to Manthos. Stavrakakis is due to meet today with Education Minister Aris Spiliotopoulos, who yesterday stressed the importance of «protecting the real significance of university asylum, which is the free exchange of ideas.» In his letter to Manthos, Stavrakakis called on academics to «take all necessary action to ensure the sit-in ends in a peaceful and consensual way.» Lecturers at Aristotle University yesterday were divided on the sit-in with half supporting it and half expressing criticism. The university’s senate has organized a rally today to protest the sit-in and has invited students and academics to join in. Protesters have reportedly organized a counter-rally. The university’s senate is today holding an open debate on campus on the subject of contracts with private service providers. The protesters occupying the dean’s office have declared solidarity with the head of the Attica cleaners’ union, Constantina Kuneva, who suffered an acid attack in December, though it is unclear if the firm used by the university is implicated in any wrongdoing.

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