Push for fresh look at asylum

A fresh debate about the university asylum law, which bars the entry of police onto campuses unless there are exceptional circumstances, has begun despite the government’s apparent unwillingness to lead it. The Athens Law School took a bold step yesterday toward limiting access to its campus when the institution’s board agreed to adopt identity cards for students and to place security guards at its gates. The law school asked the University of Athens to approve the measures and to help set up a separate body that would be responsible for guarding universities around the country and which would be directly answerable to the rector of each institution. Under the proposals presented yesterday, students would also be banned from holding events on campus without the approval of university authorities. The law school also said it would take steps to remove an illegal radio station located in a building that has been taken over by a group of nonstudents. «We are not against asylum but against its abuse,» said the law school’s dean, Theodoros Fortsakis. «Asylum must operate in favor of the free dissemination of ideas, not provide cover for illegal acts.» The steps taken by the Athens Law School are expected to put the debate over the asylum law on a new footing, as it is the first time that a university has made such specific suggestions about how to protect institutions from troublemakers. The discussion has been reignited by the attack on Sunday that led to University of Athens Rector Christos Kittas ending up in an intensive-care unit. Riot police and protesters were involved in a standoff outside the main administrative building yesterday after university authorities asked officers to form a protective ring around the premises. New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras repeated his call for parliamentary parties to debate the asylum law but PASOK seemed to rebuff his proposal. Government spokesman Giorgos Petalotis said that the issue was not to change the law but for the existing rules to be applied.

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