University asylum for who?

University asylum for who?

There were times up until very recently that if someone spoke of the need to “abolish the university asylum law” or even hinted at it, he or she was immediately linked to the dark periods of Greece’s political life. This proposal was seen to be almost equivalent to abolishing democracy. 

In recent days, New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis has not stopped reiterating that one of the first measures he will take if he forms a government is the “immediate abolition of the asylum law so that state universities can revert to being cells of knowledge and learning from areas of lawlessness.” 

He included this in one of the 16 basic pillars of New Democracy’s program that he presented yesterday. Indeed, he included the abolition of asylum under the pillar referring to security and not under that concerning education. 

And despite these repeated reminders that ND will abolish the asylum law, the ministry responsible for security has remained silent, while there has been no reaction from the SYRIZA government. Society, for its part, has received the intention to abolish the asylum law with relief – and not just New Democracy voters. 

There appears to be some sort of silent acquiescence of a large part of the people who accept that it goes without saying that the smooth operation of universities does not hinge on ideological standpoints.

Ideology has been diluted by dozens of incidents of violence by groups of students and non-students which were met with the tolerance of the government and the fear of professors (with some glaring exceptions).

On Friday, Kathimerini published a threatening letter received by Maria Efthymiou, a history professor at the University of Athens, from the anarchist/anti-establishment realm (as it defines itself).

The letter claimed that “Ms Efthymiou wants a university without struggles, without resistance, without hangouts, without anarchists and ‘dirty’ walls. A university that will operate ‘smoothly’ as a temple of ‘objective’ knowledge of the lecturer” etc etc. 

The abolition of the asylum law of course cannot abolish ideological fixations, foolishness and an anything-goes mentality. 

It can however send the message that the days of impunity are over because it is no longer tolerated by society. It’s tiring. It is not only destructive, it is also sometimes extremely dangerous.

It is a deep-rooted notion that helps the inadequate and the selfish secure positions and play a role – even among the ranks of Greek academics.

The message that “enough is enough” is being sent by a weary society. Mitsotakis has received the message and has undertaken to translate it.

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