NEWS

Students stand firm on asylum

As students at Athens Law School continued a sit-in, protesting a decision by the institution’s authorities to monitor access to the campus by placing security guards at its gates, thousands more students took to the streets to condemn the move and call for more state funding for universities. More than 2,000 students joined a largely peaceful demonstration in Athens yesterday, while a demonstration in Thessaloniki attracted about 1,300 people. As the Law School’s left-leaning student union continued with its sit-in on campus, members of the student union affiliated with the main conservative opposition New Democracy (DAP) also opposed the proposed recruitment of university guards, noting that existing legislative provisions would be adequate if they were enforced. Georgios Papadomichelakis, a spokesperson for DAP, told Kathimerini that legislation introduced in 2007 that describes the exceptional circumstances that would allow police to gain access to campuses «has never been enforced, even though there have been many situations when the asylum law should have been lifted.» According to Papadomichelakis, the proposal for the recruitment of guards outside universities and issuance of security cards to students «would not only not help matters but might actually end up fueling tensions at a very difficult time.» One student interviewed by Kathimerini said he thought that the proposed measures would not be effective as «those visiting the university to cause trouble are not going to come through the front door.» The reaction by students to the initiative by the Athens Law School, and the general unrest in the higher education sector, is expected to be the focus of debate at a summit of university rectors and deans at the port of Lavrio today. In a related development, the rector of the University of Athens, Christos Kittas, who was hospitalized on Sunday after being beaten up by assailants wielding iron bars, tendered his resignation. Kittas, who was discharged from the hospital on Wednesday after recovering from a heart attack, appealed to academics to avert sit-ins, which «unwittingly serve to protect those who believe in and promote violence.»