ATHENS – Growing violence on Greek campuses will be dealt with, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said in a pledge to root out offenders who are allowed to stay in school despite causing problems.
While some 400 security guards are being trained and will be deployed later in the spring at a number of universities, students and critics are protesting the plan, with clashes coming in Thessaloniki with riot police.
Universities are also the scenes of occupations which have been allowed for years without intervention and one law school professor in Athens quit in disgust over conditions in schools where hallways are covered with graffiti and troublemakers allowed to roam and some professors attacked.
A professor giving a lecture in an auditorium at the Athens University of Economics and Business (AUEB – who reportedly is being prosecuted for alleged crimes – was assaulted by a hooded group of attackers.
New Democracy ended asylum on university campuses and said it would step up a crackdown on trouble and Mitsotakis told Antenna TV after latest incidents that the rule of law will prevail.’
He said that trespassers and violators will be kept out and punished even“if the police need to go to universities more often to evacuate occupiers,” with Citizens’ Protection Minister Takis Theodorikakos ordering them in.
Mitsotakis said that students for too long have been allowed to occupy schools and conduct violence with impunity and that his government will finally stop it after years of leniency from previous governments, including New Democracy.
Mitsotakis admitted, however, saif Kathimerini, that there had been delays in putting security forces on campuses and plans to set up turnstiles, require
“It’s implementation proved to be a more complex exercise,” he said, while insisting the plan will go ahead in the face of vehement opposition, including from some academics who don’t want any security on school grounds.
He said the government needs cooperation from school authorities, many of whom have been reluctant to help in fear of reaction from students who don’t have to go to class or graduate and aren’t punished for wrongdoing.
Mitsotakis said rectors “have an obligation, according to the law, to prepare security plans for universities,” adding that, “They must also understand that they have an obligation to the institutions they serve, to cooperate with the state so these phenomena end, once and for all.”
He proposed the establishment of a disciplinary body for students who engage in lawlessness. “Someone who keeps on entering (university grounds) and smashes things (cannot be allowed) to remain a student,” he said, without explaining why they aren’t expelled or that the government doesn’t order university officials at state schools to follow orders.
One of the pledges he made in winning July 7, 2019 snap elections and ousting the then-ruling Radical Left SYRIZA – made up of veterans of university occupations and disobedience – was to clean up campuses.
Anarchists and protesters in Thessaloniki marched to protest police clearing out a squat in the basement area of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, last month, after 34 years.
Police said a group attacked riot police officers with stones and petrol bombs who responded with teargas. The protesters did not try to reclaim the squat, and video showed a protester’s clothes caught fire when he slipped and fell on flames from Molotov Cocktails that had been hurled during the clashes.