Saturday, January 20, 2007

Anarchists Take Over Theology School

I don’t know if I’ll ever understand how things work here with the students and the university. Back in May and June, the students voted to shut down the university in protest of a new Greek law. All classes and exams were canceled, and no one was able to graduate (and, as such, fewer scholarships turned over for newcomers like me). ) :

Now the law they’re protesting has several facets, and I don’t pretend to understand all the issues, but one of the issues is that the new law allows for greater expansion of private universities. The government also seems to want to crack down on the abuses of their publicly funded universities; for example, they have the audacity to want students to go ahead and try to graduate in less than say 8 years (which is not uncommon, especially when it’s all free).

Anyway, after the school year ended, the student protesters wanted to go on vacation so they gave up the strike. Now, as this year’s mid-year exams approach, they’re considering whether to resume the occupation. Now, apparently, each school votes separately. I know that the Philosophy and Law Schools voted for occupations last week, but the Theology School voted ‘no’ on Tuesday.

That, however, didn’t stop the anarchists, who decided to occupy the Theology School building anyway on Wednesday. This is, apparently, a rather regular event. The Theology School is, of course, a symbolic target for a number of reasons – it’s centrally located and I believe it’s the oldest building on the campus. Of course, it also represents not only religion but the religion of the state.

Anyway, I took this photo on Friday of the current state of the building. Life goes on all around the building, but no one is allowed inside to do any actual work. (The school’s café – yes, each school has their own café – is, of course, functioning. I shudder to think how the people would react to these protesters if they started messing with the regular flow of caffeine and cigarette smoking).

In the photo, you can see above the name of the school that the anarchists have set up a black flag and speakers, from which they blast terrible rock music, interspersed with their propaganda. One of the black-clad anarchists is arranging the speakers (it’s about noon, so he’s probably just woken up). They also have a couple sheets hanging from the roof.

Now, you may ask, ‘Why can’t the authorities do anything about this?’ Well, as I believe I’ve mentioned before, police are not allowed to set foot on university campuses. This essentially guarantees that these hooligans can get away with whatever they want. At some point, they’ll get tired of this charade and let everyone resume work. Until then, everyone just waits.

Fortunately, this doesn’t affect me at all. The School of Modern Greek, even though it’s located right behind the Theology building, is somehow not fully associated with the university. On Wednesday, when all this came to a head, the School of Modern Greek had a one-day sympathy strike, but that’s all. (It was nice for me, because I’m recovering from some kind of flu and I needed the rest.) We’re still plugging away at our work.

Besides that, not much exciting happening with us – vacation is clearly over and it’s back to the grind of school.

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