University Asylum: Taking down the ‘sacred totem’ of the Left in Greece

The university asylum has worked for decades as a sacred totem for the Greek left. Its main function was to remind the Left of its past in the resistance, and the constant heroization of its cadres. This was also the reason that Andreas Papandreou, the “magician” of political semantics, was in a hurry to establish the asylum as an institution, something which was already outdated by developments.

By MAXIMOS CHARAKOPOULOS *

Greece in the 1980s had left behind the black years of the dictatorship of the colonels, the police state, and persecution for ideological reasons.

The transition, led by Constantine Karamanlis, had institutionalized constitutional freedoms and democratic rule, to the point that the country, on its own feet, could enter the European elite of the era, the EEC.

However, the left-wing “mythology”, which feeds on the reproduction of its symbols, continued to refer to university asylum as if we were in an authoritarian state of persecution and oppression. Very quickly, the institution of university asylum was transformed into the opposite of what it was supposedly created for.

Instead of seamlessly circulating ideas within academia, there has been an outbreak of authoritarianism and the imposition of opinions and behaviors. Organized groups, openly bullying and using violent practices, arbitrarily decided what was to be said and what was not to be said at university institutions, what decisions the Senate had to take, who to invite as speakers, and who would be honored by emeritus status.

The infamous phenomena of previous years in universities across Greece: walling in teachers’ offices, harassment and violent attacks on members of the academic community, violent intrusions into events within the universities, leading to the conversion by troublemakers of university campuses into all kinds of staging sites. And these are always under the progressive cover, which obviously allows them all!

At the same time, however, this unhealthy environment has allowed fatal and unimpeded action within the University for all kinds of offenses, for example related to drug or human trafficking. As a result, the notorious asylum of ideas has become an asylum of lawlessness and illegality, a sore wound for a law-abiding civilized state.

Its abolition, therefore, particularly in the form given it by former SYRIZA Minister of Education Mr Gavroglou, was an almost universal social demand. And that’s what the New Democracy government has done since its first month in office, just as it had pledged before the elections.

However, the wager on restoring freedom and legitimacy in universities has not been won yet. The law creates the conditions for us to move to normality, but it must be applied strictly. Because it is certain that those who had been tainted by the former disease will react, having the backs of those who continue to bet on dated misconceptions. There is no doubt that the definitive victory of the government of Kyriakos Mitsotakis on the asylum front will have not only substantial but also great symbolic value.

* Maximos Charakopoulos is the Chairman of the Standing Committee on Public Administration, Public Order and Justice of the Parliament, Member of Parliament of New Democracy for Larissa