★ ISM - UK
May 16th: Rectorate Occupied
at the University of Belgrade
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:
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.
The following statement was agreed on among participants of various global chat meetings.
Solidarity Statement Against State Repression
(with Focus on Recent Death in Morocco)
~ italiano ~
Students Occupy Space at Bucharest University and Babeș-Bolyai University
In the evening of March 26 students began to occupy the History Faculty of Bucharest University as well as an amphitheatre at Babeș-Bolyai University in Cluj-Napoca (both in Romania) indefinately. With this action they aim to create an open space for everyone to discuss, reflection and to articulate common interests.
It's an act against the increasing commercialisation of education; an act of resistance against universities being factories producing human capital for the labour market, while at the same time students are turned into customers.
The following press release was published by the students involved in the occupation at Babeș-Bolyai University:
For immediate distribution
26th of March, 2013
Reclaim your University!
Cluj Napoca, Romania. Today, 26th of March, 2013, at 4 pm, one of the amphitheaters of the central headquartes of Babes Bolyai University from Cluj Napoca, has been indefinifelty occupied as a sit-in, by students.
The University is transforming, more and more, into an over guarded institution. The space that should have encourage the free movement of ideas and that should have been a debate forum, became, with every year, a closed space, petrified by practices that no longer reflect the students' true problems and needs. Instead of being a life learning experience, the University makes us dependent of a dysfunctional economic and social system: university education is a merchandise, nicely packed and served to clients (also called „students”) whose only social value, after graduation, is that of potentially employees. But the most severe problem is that the students are not encourage, through a participatory system, to make their voices heard.
Therefore, we consider that the reclaim of an autonomous space inside the University is necessary – a space where our voices can be articulated, in a free debate, open to all students. We are all responsable for the creation of a collective future, in which everyone's aspirations compose an university project, designed to cultivate involved and critical citizens, not just diploma owners.
Because we regard University as a common and not as a socially isolated institution, everyone's involvement is both necessary and welcomed – involvement of students, teachers, university auxiliary staff, high school students, graduates and anyone interested. Being a non-exclusive debate, any form of discrimination is against the very reasons that made this debate necessary.
The University belongs to everyone!
This is a students sit-in. It will not end until we, together, come to a conclusion regarding our real problems and the possible solutions for them. From this moment on, your opinion matters, as long as you are here!
The first plenary will take place TODAY, 26 March 2013, starting with 6.30pm, in the Iorga amphitheater, first floor, main building of the Babes Bolyai University.
at Babes Bolyai University:
at Bucharest University:
"We are the university!"
Manila, March 18-22nd:
Week of 'Black Protest' after Student Suicide triggered by inability to Pay for Tuition Fees
A week of 'Black Protest' at public and private colleges and universities across the Philippines takes place between March 18 and 22. It commemorates the death of Kristel Tejada who committed suicide, because she couldn't pay for tuition fees in time. The 'Black Protest' is marked by walk-outs and is also directed against another possible increase in tuition fees.
“Education is a right and it shouldn’t be sold,” said Mariz Zubiri, chair of the student council of UP branch in Manila, as hundreds of students rushed to UP (University of the Philippines) Manila to begin protest rallies. Police deployed a so-called security forces on campus.
“This is a call on all students to stand up and strike for education and justice,” said Zubiri at the start of a protest of rallies for Kristel Tejada, a Behavioral Sciences student who died after drinking silver cleaner.
The suicide of Kristel, 16, the eldest of five children of a taxi driver and a housewife, came after she filed a leave of absence in the middle of the second semester for failure to pay tuition of around P10,000 (~ €190/ US$245).
Tejada lost her life after being brought to Manila’s Philippine General Hospital on Friday, March 15.
Her story went viral on the internet over the weekend.
Protesters created a sea of black ribbons all over the campus. They also wore black ribbons on their right arms.
Students created black handprints on a piece of white cloth in solidarity with her mourning family.
Militant groups joined the protesting students.
Students of Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) held solidarity protests over the death of Tejada and the reported tuition increase in their school.
“We fear that if tuition and other fees increase in PUP, we will face the same fate as the UP Iskolar ng Bayan*. We must protest the fee hikes,” said PUP student regent Helen Alfonso.
At the Polytechnic University of the Philippines in Manila students kicked off the week with a walk-out and burnt chairs as well as tables in the courtyard on campus.
History repeats itself - just 3 years before (2010), there was a tuition fee increase that was stopped by the burning of wooden chairs that took place in the exact same place, at PUP, Mabini campus.
“Kristel’s death has galvanized the students to act and express their growing discontent to our current education system. The spark ignited by her untimely demise has rekindled the fire of dissent in thousands of students both in public and private universities. Together, let us fight to scrap unjust tuition policies and demand justice for Kristel and for all,” Terry Ridon, president of Kabataan Partylist.
* Students of the university and its graduates are generally referred to as “[Mga] Iskolar ng Bayan”
The following appeal was initiated by some academics at the University of Zürich (Switzerland) and originally published on www.zuercher-appell.ch. By now this appeal is being endorsed by more than 1.000 people around the world. Although it is only focussing on one of the aspects included in this international joint statement, you might want to consider signing it as well.
for the Protection of Academic Independence
Now that cooperation between the private sector and public universities has all but become the norm, in Europe as elsewhere, it is time to ask some basic questions: What is a university? And what is its role in society?
Universities grew out of the idea of establishing a place where freedom of research, education and scholarship is protected and beyond venal influence. They serve the common good and in turn are supported by the community. Directly linked to this founding idea is the academic ethos that preserves the institution of the university as a special place, free from political, ideological and commercial interests. Freedom of teaching and research is protected by the Swiss Constitution.
Against this background, it is self-evident that a public university should neither cooperate with nor accept sponsorship from institutions associated with public scandal or unethical conduct. That is damaging to the academic reputation of any university. And it impinges upon the independence of the scholars concerned, particularly those directly funded by such institutions, undermining their status as guarantors of independence and ethically-minded scholarship.
The University of Zurich was born of this same spirit of independent thinking in 1833. It is “the first university in Europe to be founded by a democratic state instead of by either a monarch or the church”. This proud claim stands to this day on the university’s website. The question is: are today’s universities still sufficiently independent in an age of cooperation and sponsorship?
In April 2012, the Executive Board of the University of Zurich concluded a cooperation agreement, in camera, with the top management of UBS (Union Bank of Switzerland). The agreement entails sponsoring of the university by UBS to the tune of 100 million Swiss francs and the establishment of a “UBS International Centre of Economics in Society” within the scope of the university. Neither the public nor the research and teaching staff were asked their opinion. The agreement between the university and UBS was concluded secretly in the spring of 2012.
This procedure brings the issue of sponsorship into sharp focus. The Executive Board of the University concedes that the bank is using the university as a platform to further its interests. However, UBS is a particular case of a business that has been shown in the past to have engaged in unethical practices. The fact that the bank was able to place its logo at the University of Zurich has nothing to do with scholarship and everything to do with marketing.
It is a glaring example of the problematic nature of academic sponsorship. But there are many more instances, in other European countries, of questionable university sponsorship deals. In one case, in June 2011, Deutsche Bank had to withdraw from a controversial sponsorship arrangement because of justified public criticism. This shows that sponsorship involving specific vested interests and secret deals – in contrast to altruistic patronage and donation by benefactors – represents a threat to the impartiality of university research and teaching. The very academic ethos is at risk.
As citizens, researchers, academics and students, we appeal to the leaders of the universities and all who bear responsibility for our educational institutions, at home and abroad, to safeguard the precious heritage of free and independent scholarship, and to avoid endangering the academic ethos in controversial collaborations.