May 16: Rectorate Occupied at the University of Belgrade

May 16th: Rectorate Occupied
at the University of Belgrade

Reported by Miodrag on the global ISM fb page:

On May 16th students occupied the headship of the University of Belgrade (main administration building / rector's office) and brought it under student control.

Short-term demands by the protesters:

  1. Stopping increases in tuition fees now;
  2. Stopping the ongoing abolition of university autonomy;
  3. Public support by the academic community (teachers).
Long-term demands by the protesters:
  1. Free (publicly funded) education for all;
  2. Stopping the implementation of the Bologna declaration;
  3. Replacing student parliaments with direct democratic bodies.
The occupation peaked in a press conference, which was held at the occupied building during the next day (May 17). After that the students left the building again.
This was the first in a series of actions planned for this season. During an assembly it was decided that this occupation was just a warning so it was held for one night only this time. Further protests and a set of actions are already scheduled for the next week.
When asked what the protesters mean by demanding to see "the abolition of university autonomy" constrained a fellow activist on the ground said:
We demand autonomy of the university because state institutions (and private interests) in coordination with official representative student bodies, are trying to control the political situation at the university. They are threatening with police and already hired private forces (security agencies) to fight students which stood up for their rights. Autonomy primarily means that the police have no business being inside the university, students have the right to directly and democratically decide on university issues and to organize freely within the territory of the university. All these rights are consistently and persistently violated. In the shorter term autonomy also means a strategic requirement that faculties maintain their present right to regulate the tuition themselves, to stop announced increase of prices, and to join us in the fight for free education against higher government authorities. This is important because state is trying to take these rights away using the excuse that it does not have any power to regulate prices and blaming the university, and all this is just a cover for further commercialization of education and the transformation of education into a privilege.
Students of all universities unite! Knowledge is not a commodity! One world, one struggle!

 

Website of the protesters: studentskeborbe.info

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Call for Statements of Support

The following message was sent to the global ISM mailing list on May 20:

Important protest is happening on 23rd May, against new attacks on student's rights, which will be demanded in front of Rectorate, and for free education, which will be demanded in front of Ministry of Education. The student movement, based on direct democracy and direct action, with a goal of free education, has these days initiated a new bigger wave of struggle, which will for sure change some social climate in Serbia. The movement calls the ISM for solidarity (actions, letters of support and so on. letters of support you can send studentskeborbe@gmail.com).

Here you can see one of the recent direct actions - occupation of a Rectorat building, where student assembley was held (Assembley than called for a protest for free education on May 23rd). The crowd is chanting "There's no budget? You have problem!" (it rhymes on serbo-croat :)