Vandals terrorize university

Tensions peaked at Thessaloniki’s Aristotle University yesterday after vandals smashed up the institution’s computer center just one day after protesters staging a sit-in at the university’s administrative offices hijacked an open debate and assaulted the university rector. Around 20 hooded youths broke into the first-floor computer room and used iron bars to wreak widespread damage, knocking the university’s online system out of order until late last night. The spree of vandalism came just a few hours after the university’s senate reassured self-styled leftists staging the campus sit-in that it would set up a committee to assess the status of the university’s contracts with cleaning firms. This was expected to appease the protesters, who have claimed that their sit-in is in solidarity with the head of the Attica cleaners’ union, Constantina Kuneva, who suffered an acid attack in December. But it was unclear yesterday whether the perpetrators behind the computer-bashing spree were the same as those staging the campus sit-in. Orestis Kalogirou, a member of the union of research staff at the university’s Physics Department said that members of another sit-in in another part of the campus had threatened to smash up the university’s computer center if the center’s director refused to connect their base to the Internet. «As they were leaving they threatened to come back and burn everything if they did not get an Internet connection,» Kalogirou said. «In a university that is under occupation… all manner of opportunists can dictate to authorities,» he added. Speculation mounted yesterday that the university’s rector, Anastassios Manthos, who was jeered and pelted with an egg during an open debate on Tuesday, was considering stepping down. Manthos reportedly avoided answering telephone calls yesterday, intensifying speculation that he was considering quitting his post.

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