ATHENS – Overriding opposition from some university officials, the New Democracy government is forging ahead with a plan to improve security on campuses after the posting of a video showing a rector attacked and a sign hung around his neck favoring squatters.
The scheme will include adding a security force on campuses that will have special training but will have to report to the Greek police in cases of violence or where authorities are needed, said Kathimerini.
The government is trying to curtail lawlessless on and around school grounds that went out of control over the former ruling Radical Left SYRIZA that is riddled with anarchist and terrorist sympathizers and a hard core whose college days were spent rebelling.
New Democracy already had ended asylum on school grounds that was brought back by the Leftists and let those who committed crimes hide on campuses without fear of apprehension.
But crimes still are going on around universities and they are being infiltrated by hooded anarchists, looters and squatters, the plan to prevent that also requiring people entering the grounds to show student ID cards.
There would also be stricter disciplinary rules as buildings are often taken over by students protesting a number of grievances and in the past had seen them allowed to do what they want without punishment.
The measures had been outlined by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis during a meeting with university deans in October, now put forth in amendment drafted by the Education Ministry, due to be presented Dec. 8 by Education Minister Niki Kerameus in a meeting with rectors.
The school officials want the special policing teams, who will be uniformed, to come under the jurisdiction of the schools and not police, critics to the government idea believing that the constitutionally guaranteed self-government of academic institutions could be compromised otherwise.
The measures go beyond security and will also include heavier penalties for copying and plagiarism, such as being banned from taking exams or even being expelled, contrary to the tradition of leniency that has seen students being allowed to stay that way, some even until reaching retirement age.
The rectors plan to counter with their own proposals, the paper said, to be discussed at regular meetings set for Dec. 16-18, a complicating factor being the heavily-politicized makeup of groups at universities at odds with each other.
Kathimerini understands that the rectors will submit their own proposals, and the issue is expected to be discussed in view of the regular meeting of the council of university rectors on December 16-18.
The government moved in the aftermath of an Oct. 29 incident in which a group of some 15 hooded people stormed the office of the rector of the Athens University of Economics & Business, Dimitris Bourantonis, causing extensive damages, draping a sign around his neck with a slogan backing squatters.
They smashed computers and equipment and sprayed slogans on walls and furniture, and running away posted a photo of the rector with the sign on his neck on an anti-establishment website but didn't say why he was targeted.
Anarchist groups are furious Greek police emptied squats, authorities saying some were used from criminal behavior.
Kerameus said, “Those who think that with bullying, fascism and violence they will terrorize academics and go unpunished, they are badly mistaken.”
Ten academics had written Mitsotakis a letter demanding action, including tighter security to “safeguard academic life and the operation (of universities,” which have seen on-and-off violence directed at professors, including assaults.
Schools are highly politicized between groups which the professors said interferes with their purpose, urging a return to the “natural role, which is the cultivation of genuine and substantial excellence, with guaranteed independence of opinions and research, which is the essence of academic freedom.”