Exploitation of university immunity

As debate intensifies about how to lift university immunity – which currently forbids police and other state authorities from entering university premises – the current occupation of a university building highlights the need for change to the existing institutional framework. Unidentified individuals, calling themselves anarchists, have been barricaded inside the historic building of Athens University since Friday when they occupied the premises, calling for the immediate release of convicted November 17 member Savvas Xeros on the grounds of the latter’s ailing health. Their actions would suggest that, rather than a convicted terrorist, Xeros was a student who flunked his macroeconomics class. Judging from the above, we can expect the next such protest to call for the release of serial bank robber Nikos Palaiocostas or to be conducted by dairy producers complaining about the low price of milk. Some leftist conspiracy theorists would argue that the pro-Xeros sit-in was rather convenient for reactionary forces who want to grant the police access to university premises. One thing is clear: At a time when the student movement is, rightly or wrongly, struggling to preserve the institution of university immunity, a group of people occupy a university building and make a demand that has absolutely no connection to education issues. All this is reminiscent of the Communist party’s (KKE) interpretation of terrorism – namely, that terrorists may pose as populists but are actually hijacking, and undermining, the popular front. But because intentions are difficult to determine, we can only really judge from the outcome. And the outcome of terrorist acts, as with the current sit-in, actually undermines the demands of major movements, whether these demands are justifiable or not. But this is not the real issue here. Up until now, only the university senate has reacted to this absurd sit-in. Neither political parties, nor social groups nor any of the – usually extremely vocal – student movements have said a word. Perhaps they have more important things on their minds and believe that the occupation of an educational institution of historic significance is not worth bothering with.