A new special police force to combat violence at Greek universities has sparked riot and heated debate in a country where the police entering campus is a highly sensitive issue.
Condemned by some critics as undemocratic , student groups have broken virus restrictions in order to regularly protest the police plan for weeks.
As memories of the beatings and murders of students by security forces during the military dictatorship in Greece are still great, university staff fear that the police station will be stationed on campus is not the answer and the problems could even ignite.
For decades, strikes, protests, clashes, violence against employees, sit-in strikes against cuts and reforms, and crime have disrupted university life.
In the most recent case, university life was disrupted a riot police dispatched to the occupation of administrative offices at the Aristote lio University in the second city, Thessaloniki.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis says the new police patrols are necessary to initiate « a cool breath of freedom that has been kept away from the smoke of the fire bombs ».
Speaking to MPs last month when the plan was approved, he said « historic university buildings will be destroyed, infrastructure looted, people threatened, girls raped and drugs sold ».
At the Athens Polytechnic, the said Deputy Rector Evangelos Sapountzakis, however, said there were « doubts » as to whether the police were up to the task.
Sapountzakis, himself a polytechnic graduate, also told AFP that he was concerned that students were using the police on campus as a « provocation » would look at and fight back.
Under the current Conservative government, there have been reports of persistent police tactics against demonstrators.
In the Ra As part of the plan, around 1,000 specially trained police officers will be deployed at the most important Greek universities from September, a police source told AFP.
In the meantime, police work at some large universities will be stepped up from next month, the Minister for Public Order has announced .
On condition of anonymity, a polytechnic professor said the sprawling university campus in Athens’ Zografou district had a number of problems, from vandalism and graffiti to drug trafficking.
« The worst Problem we have is break-ins and theft of devices that can take a year to replace, « he said.
» Most of the people here believe these things need to be kept in check, but we disagree how to do it. «
In the past, universities have tried to keep the police at bay after they broke a student riot in 1973 a m Athens Polytechnic.
Sapountzakis, its deputy rector, insists that the university could better manage its own security if its state funds had not been drastically cut during the decade of economic crisis.
« Im In 2009 our budget was 9.36 million euros. This year it’s 3.8 million euros.
« The electricity bill alone costs around two million euros, » Sapountzakis told AFP in his office overlooking the run-down campus.
An online petition against the The measure has received hundreds of signatures from scholars around the world.
In December, the conclave of Greek university rectors said it had recognized « the need » for a « realistic » security initiative and had asked the government for more details.
Some have criticized them for not speaking out more strongly against the violent campus.
« It is expensive, let alone occasionally dangerous, to speak out, let alone act, against this condition, » said Stathis Kalyvas, who has spent most of his career abroad and is currently a government professor at Oxford University.
However, they are often anti-establishment protesters n who are not part of the university behind the violence.
In October, the rector of the Athens University of Economics (AUEB) was attacked in his office by a group of hooded youths who presented him with a sign that read » Solidarity with sit-in strikes « .
A faculty member told AFP: » Our university has big problems with crimes, petty or not, that are mainly committed by non-students. «
Staff and students « Are afraid to express themselves in the file because they could be targeted, » said the employee.
Rectors and professors from other universities were also blocked in their offices by students who spoke out against reform plans.
In front of a laboratory at the Athens Polytechnic, a large graffito of a pig with a policeman’s hat was sprayed on the wall.
The professor of civil engineering Xenofon Lignos, who both his student and has also spent his teaching career at university, but says that the external picture of the dysfunction belies the solid research of his students, much of which is commissioned by European industry.
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