With the administrative employees at the National Kapodistrian University of Athens and the National Technical University of Athens deciding to continue their strike for a 13th consecutive week, essentially wasting the academic semester, the Minister of Education Konstantinos Arvanitopoulos has found himself under pressure from the government to take the necessary initiatives and resolve this matter.
To that end, the Minister of Education decided to refer the Rector of the NKUA Theodosis Pelegrinis to the Supreme Disciplinary Council on misconduct charges. Legal experts who spoke to To Vima have noted that these charges are difficult to prove and necessitate special proceedings which cannot be expedited. There were also doubts as to whether the council would even convene to discuss charges before Mr. Pelegrinis completes his term.
At the same time, the Minister has requested the NKUA Senate to suspend Mr. Pelegrinis until the case against him is heard. As the Senate members have submitted their resignations to the Rector, Mr. Pelegrinis would have to call a Senate meeting for his own suspension. An experienced academic commented that “there is no middle ground” anymore and that “someone must win and another must lose”.
On Monday evening SYRIZA requested the resignation of Mr. Arvanitopoulos, whom they accused one “demonstrating authoritarianism and insolvency” and being responsible for the dramatic condition in higher education. The Minister responded that the opposition’s support to the Rector indicates collusion at the expense of students and their families.
Minister to meet Rectors on Tuesday
The latest developments prompted the Rectors of other universities to intervene in order to discuss a solution and arranged to meet at noon on Tuesday. The Rector of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki Yannis Mylopoulos estimated that “the Minister’s decision not only doesn’t solve any problem, it exacerbates the climate and reinvigorates the tension”.
The Supreme Disciplinary Council
The body which will be called upon to rule on Mr. Pelegrinis’ referral is comprised of three judges (one from each of the three country’s Supreme Courts), one active Rector (which is current Kostas Remelis of the Democritus University of Thrace) and one academic from the defendant’s institution, usually a Deputy Rector. Mr. Pelegrinis will have the support of the administrative employees, who have decided to continue their strike action and campaign against the Minister of Education.
The semester has been wasted
The decision to extend the university administrative employee strike for a 13th week means that the semester has essentially gone to waste, since it is extremely unlikely that the time can be made up. Teaching staff and university representatives claimed that the “solution” of non-stop teaching throughout the summer is completely unacceptable.