No winners, only losers

” There are no winners or losers» in the expected suspension of the five-month strike by university officials. This is what Education Minister Petros Efthymiou said yesterday. He was obviously referring to the two rivals, university professors and the government. They fought a long war. But the prestige, the dignity and the status of the two enemies escaped unscathed from the conflict. Or so the minister has it. It just happened, though, that this pointless and fruitless war left scores of victims on the battlefield. It also caused incurable wounds. In 13 out of 18 universities, thousands of students were deprived of copious hours of needed class time. They lost an entire term and their examinations. The two sides used «civilians» as a lever for pressure and blackmail in their five-month battle. They did this to achieve victory; to crush the enemy. Professorial intransigence and governmental inflexibility were based on indefinite suspension of classes, to the detriment of students and their families. Hence, Efthymiou’s remarks that there are no winners or losers after Monday’s «compromise solution» should be seen in a different light. It took five months, during which university education came undone and students were held ransom, for the two sides to realize that there were no allies or sympathizers in their so-called struggle; that all of public opinion did not justify the cause or the intensity of their conflict; that public indignation was equally directed against the two sides; and that they were equally blamed for the paralysis of universities. The settlement does not mean the two sides ended in a draw. They failed to rescue their prestige and dignity as Efthymiou suggested. Quite the reverse. There was no winner, but definitely two losers. The solution was not a compromise but humiliation. For both.