★ ISM - UK
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.
Morocco, February 24th:
Day of Action to Commemorate the Killing of Mohamed Fizazi and Protest Police presence on Campus
In various cities across Morocco students came together to commemorate the killing of Mohamed El Fizazi who sadly died of his injuries on January 26th 2013.
Mohamed, a 22 year old radical leftist student, passed away after he had been beaten up when the police broke into the campus of Mohamed Ibn Abdellah University in Fès. He was one of several students who were badly beaten by the so called Quick Response Forces. Mohamed was then taken to the hospital where he died as a result of serious head injuries.
He was a member of the National Union of Students in Morocco in the Faculty of Arts and Humanities at Mohamed Ibn Abdellah University. Mohamed was enrolled in the Department of English Literature, and he was expected to graduate this year.
Mohamed Ibn Abdellah University in Fès is a traditional stronghold of leftist students in Morocco. Many of them were killed on its campuses before. The most famous incident dates back to 1988 when police shot dead the students Souad El Saidi, Zoubida Khalifa, and Adil El Ajroumi.
The Union of students to change the educational system organized on February 24th a sit-in against the murder of the student FIZAZI in FEZ and to say "NO" to the tripartite agreement between the ministry of higher education, interior and justice that allows the police forces to intervene at any moment on campus and stop student activities. Program: Flashmob, Freeze, a play, a sit-in with slogans, speaking participants. #1world1struggle
source: fb album on global ISM page
Union of students for the change of the educational system (also known as UECSE or UX) have recently (24 February) demonstrated artistically to show their rage about the death of Mohamed Fizazi. This student died a few days after being beaten up by the police on campus. What allowed this to happen is the Tripartite Memorandum. It combines three ministries: justice, education and interior and gives them the authority on students campus, it also gives the police the right to interfere at any time they want and for no legitimate reason.
Marburg, February 9th:
Anti-Capitalist Education Block/
Students Squat Former School Building
Around 250 people took to the streets of Marburg - a small town with around 80,000 people in the middle of Germany - during an anti-capitalist demonstration. Part of it was also an anti-capitalist education block (call to action in German):
Also signs saying "No Border, No Nation - Free Education!" as well as "I'm NOT human capital!" were spotted.
Other topics included sexism, deportations, as well as the increasing privatisation of public space.
Among others also this banner was part of the demo:
'Overcoming borders! Solidarity instead of Germany'
The whole demo was accompanied by a huge riot police contingent. When the protesters were about to reach the final destination of the march (a major junction) to hold a final speech 3 rows of riot police blocked the demo. This resulted in scuffels and the use of pepper spray as well as batons by the law and order personnel.
Reports are still vague, but according to newspaper and eye wittness reports at least four people were detained, searched, identified (incl. pictures taken) by the riot police.
At night around 150 people (mostly) students began to squat an empty house (formerly a school) as a practical step in the struggle against the increasing privatisation of public space and for affordable housing.
The house has been empty for a while and was recently privatised (sold for €1.1m). The new owner wants to use it to rent expensive apartments.
The squatters aim to keep the space and fill it with workshops, public screenings and cultural activities at least for the coming days.
Activities Worldwide related to the
GLOBAL EDUCATION STRIKE
The following is an overview of many of the activities related to the GLOBAL EDUCATION STRIKE (Oct.18 + Nov.14-22) sorted by dates and locations. Basis of the GES was this call to action as well as the international joint statement.
Sorted by dates:
✖ October 18 (Global Day of Action to Reclaim Education -- Direct Democracy NOW!) ✖
Sorted by locations (number in brackets indicates the date for locations with more than one entry):
Want to make any corrections? Noticed anything missing? Do you have any questions or comments?
Feel free to contact the ISM admin collective: ism_admin[at]lists.riseup.net
To stay connected to the flow of information on the International Student Movement (ISM) platform in the future and get involved (in coordinations in the future) subscribe to the global ISM mailing list.
Augsburg and Hannover, January 17/18th:
Rallies for Free Education
In the struggle for free education a broad alliance called for rallies in Augsburg (Bavaria) and Hannover (Lower-Saxony) on January 17th and 18th respectively.
Bavaria and Lower-Saxony are the only two federal states (out of 16) in Germany left charging general tuition fees at universities.
In five other federal states tuition fees were abolished again after massive protests in the past few years - e.g. most recently in North-Rhine Westphalia.
That the demonstrations were initiated now is no coincidence. In Bavaria a popular referendum aiming to abolish tuition fees kicked off on January 17th. For it to be successful almost 1,000,000 people need to participate. It is likely to succeed, recent polls suggest that around 74% of the population reject the idea to charge people for the opportunity to study. The referendum ends on January 30th.
Up to 2,000 people participated in the rally in Hannover and 600 in Augsburg. At least in Hannover protesters did not just express their rejection of tuition fees, but also focussed on the abolition of fees linked to the access to education in general - incl. kindergarden.
Many students in Bavaria and Lower Saxony also protested during the Global Education Strike in November 2012.
website of the referendum: volksbegehren-studiengebuehren.de
In Lower-Saxony elections for the parliament of the federal state are scheduled for January 20th. Opposition parties are supporting the call for the abolition of tuition fees - at least for now.
Let's see if tuition fees will be abolished across Germany in the coming months. That would also be an important signal for the struggle on the global level.
videos and pictures of the rallies:
banner says: for a society based on solidarity! - tearing down barriers in the access to education!