The Athens University of Economics and Business (AUEB) was shuttered on Wednesday, while the School of Philosophy at the National Kapodistrian University of Athens (NKUA) has been occupied by anarchists. Professors and students are warning that the campuses have become dens of drug trafficking and other criminal activities.
On Thursday, the School of Philosophy at the Athens University was shut down in protest as members of the Rubicon anarchist group occupied a classroom and stated that they will teach a class there each Wednesday, espousing their political ideas. Despite efforts by university faculty, the anarchists threatened physical violence if attempts were made to drag them out of the classroom.
These recent events are a culmination of the increasing incidence of delinquent and criminal acts taking place in the two universities. The University of Economics and Business in particular has become a primary hub of drug trafficking and abuse. In addition, dozens of migrants have set up shop inside and outside the campus selling contraband cigarettes and merchandise.
At the same time, university halls and classrooms remain full of rubbish and broken furniture as a result of budget cutbacks. The university dean and faculty have repeatedly pleaded for state intervention but to no avail, as police are not permitted to enter any institution of higher education because of the university asylum law which forbids their presence.
As a result, anarchists and common criminals take advantage of the asylum and use the university premises as safe spaces for their illegal activities.
Students themselves have expressed concern about the state of the universities and launched a petition calling on authorities to resolve the issue, having so far collected 900 signatures to that effect.
On Wednesday morning, professors and students of the School of Philosophy gathered at the entrance of the campus in order to prevent Rubicon members from entering the premises. Nevertheless, the anarchists entered forcefully and took over classroom 516 again, just as they had done the previous two Wednesdays.
Main opposition leader Mitsotakis pledges to put an end to university asylum
New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis stated that if he is elected, he would scrap the university asylum law that prevents police from entering university grounds to arrest offenders.
The previous New Democracy-PASOK coalition government abolished the asylum law. Nevertheless, the law was reinstated as soon as the leftist SYRIZA government came to power in January 2015.
Mitsotakis, whose party leads in public opinion polls, is generally viewed by survey respondents as the more suitable candidate for prime minister compared to Alexis Tsipras.
“We want universities where students and teachers do not feel fear; universities that we are not ashamed of … I pledge that no space will be occupied (by criminal elements) in our public universities,” said Mitsotakis to an audience of academics in central Athens on Wednesday. “The gangs that hide out in our universities will be eradicated,” he added.
Mitsotakis also promised to establish an evaluation process for higher education institutions and allow universities and other tertiary schools the ability to determine how many undergraduates they will accept for admission every year.
Meanwhile, protesters and students at the Athens University of Economics and Business and the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki have demanded the government and law enforcement agencies put a stop to open drug dealing and use on campuses.
An AUEB official said that the university would be shut down temporarily unless something is done. “Every day we are faced with the sad image of delirious or half-dead addicts sprawled out in the surrounding streets,” another school official said, according to the Kathimerini newspaper.