As protests continue against the appointment of Melih Bulu as rector of Boğaziçi University, similar activity has been taking place in neighboring Greece. The right-wing New Democracy government’s plan to station police officers in universities, citing campus violence, sparked a huge backlash.
Despite massive student protests in the capitals of Athens and Thessaloniki, as well as in many places, with occasional harsh police intervention and strong objections from the academic community, the Greek Parliament passed the controversial bill last week. The bill, which was opposed by all opposition parties except the radical right-wing Greek Solution party, which had 10 deputies in parliament, passed by 132 to 166 votes. Prime Minister Kiryakos Miçotakis said in his speech in parliament that the new law will prevent universities from becoming havens for marginalized groups.
The deployment plan for the unarmed special police with the power to stop universities and summon the quick police is one of the most controversial parts of the bill, but the reform package is not limited to that. The bill also includes cutting educational funding by reducing the number of students and equating diplomas from some private institutions of higher education with a state college diploma. Additionally, students who are unable to complete the 4-year educational period will be expelled from school after two years of additional time. It is also on the agenda that students who post posters and demonstrate on campus are subject to surveillance and the establishment of disciplinary boards with authority to expel students.
Police ban on campus, legacy of the Polytechnic Resistance
The universities of Greece, one of the countries where higher education is the cheapest in Europe, historically occupy an important place in politics and are seen as the “castle of democracy”. Greek students occupied the National Technical University of Athens in 1973 against the junta, tanks broke through the university door and intervened students against protests that spread throughout the country, and according to official figures, some 40 people died in the following facts. A year after the events that provoked a great reaction, the junta was overthrown and Greece went to democracy. Following these events, which were recorded in history as the “Polytechnic Resistance that overthrew the fascist dictatorship in Greece,” the 1982 law prohibited law enforcement officers from entering university campuses.
Increased violence on campus reinforces reports of security deficiencies
New Democracy lifted this ban after it came to power in the 2019 elections. Occupation of teachers’ classrooms on some campuses, increased robberies and violence, has sparked debates in universities about security weaknesses .
Last October, a group of alleged anarchists occupied the room of the rector for Economics and Business at the University of Athens, Dimitris Bourantonis, and held the rector hostage for a time. Some argue that universities have become too politicized with the effect of social unrest that increased with the economic crisis.
“The pro-government media launched a smear campaign against the universities”
Greek University to the Athens University Academics Initiative of the Special Security Force Against the post in Turkey and Assistant Professor of the Department of Modern Asian Studies Efi Kanner, the ruling party has long been the neoliberal environment, even that the military junta was built after the fall and it left the objective of the academic model what they see as a consequence of the declared hegemony.