It was just two weeks ago that education ministry employees complained that Education Minister Kostas Gavroglu had turned the ministry into a prison, with the heightened security measures that were implemented.

Obviously, the minister does not deny that the ministry is a public building. It is equally obvious that he believes that a public building is not necessarily a public space.

The minister and the government, however, do not have the same view when it comes to universities. Gavroglu went as far as to say that the protection of universities is the job of the students, who are obliged to be “brave”.

We see the result today. The academic community, which considers it inconceivable to take measures analogous to the ones decided by the minister for his personal security, is being held hostage by organised groups which impose their views, based on the principle of might makes right.

From that position of strength, the anarchist group Rouvikonas occupied a room in the philosophical faculty of the University of Athens.

Despite the plea of the rector for the group to vacate the premises, they plan to stay.

Universities cannot function in this manner, and that is not only because they are not public spaces, as some believe, but also because academic freedom presupposes an absence of fear.

There can be no academic freedom when there is fear of various groups and other minorities, which are wont to terrorise and use violence against whomever does not agree with them.

In this manner, a university becomes a real prison.

 

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