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Politics

New Democracy Moves to Stop Violence, Assaults On University Grounds

ATHENS – After 10 academics said the New Democracy government had to act, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis directed a plan aimed at trying to stop attacks and violence on university grounds, often directed at professors.

That will include creating campus security forces to stop criminal behavior and request police aid if needed, a group that will receive special training to deal with invaders on school grounds.

Anyone can enter universities now and it wasn't said why there weren't security checks. University grounds had been used by anarchists and criminals to hide from police before New Democracy ended a sanctuary law resurrected by the former ruling Radical Left SYRIZA which has terrorist and anarchist sympathizers.

“It goes without saying that until we make the necessary changes, the existing provisions should be activated, which meet the hesitation or sometimes fear of those who have to set them in motion,” Mitsotakis said, reported Kathimerini.

Rectors and academics who took part in the meeting applauded the plan but said their schools have to play a part as students often take over rooms or shut down academic activity to air grievances.

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 that Greek police have 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.”

Critics said the assault on Bourantonis said abolishing the university sanctuary law wasn't enough to protect staff and professors

“Everyone must know their obligations so they are not accused of laxity nor of overstepping,” a high-ranking official of the ministry told the paper, which had said there was talk of issuing electronic entry cards for students widely used in many other countries. 

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