Impunity in universities | eKathimerini.com

The state as well as the institutions themselves have failed to quell the endemic anarchy on college campuses. [InTime News]

The debate around violence and intimidation in Greek universities has been raging for years. Experts often ask why the state as well as the institutions themselves have failed to quell the endemic lawlessness on college campuses. Is this a Gordian knot to be cut by the nascent university police? Let’s put off answering that question for now.

Those demanding a politically correct answer are essentially dodging the question. When an academic is threatened, harassed or humiliated by students or strangers inside the establishment for which he works, the police have a duty to enter the premises of the university and get away to occupy. However, incidents like this clearly indicate that there is a problem with the functioning of the institution itself.

On very few occasions, university authorities have taken disciplinary action against students who have committed acts of violence against other students or staff. In the majority of cases where a student appears before the disciplinary council of his university, it is because he was caught cheating on an exam. Moreover, the heaviest penalty for such an offense is to be deprived of the opportunity to retake the exam at the next sitting. Malefactors are usually treated leniently by Greek universities because, in what seems like a distorted perception of democracy, every student seems to deserve a second chance or a passing grade.

However, when it comes to harassment, the institution must show rigor and political courage to safeguard public order and impose severe sanctions when they are due. These hooded students are not children but citizens with the right to vote. Moreover, the question of whether to punish a student who beats or threatens his teacher is not an ideological question. Indeed, what happened to those students who held professors hostage or hung a sign around the rector’s neck simply because he happened to have a different opinion? What happened to those students who persecuted the teachers?

The fear felt by university professors anxious not to antagonize the holders of extreme political opinions has a toxic effect on the institutions; this leads to navel-gazing and intolerance. That said, the teachers should not complain too much, because they too are responsible for this regime of impunity.

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