Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Storming the Greek Academy

by Aristides N. Hatzis

Wall Street Journal

November 15, 2012

On Monday, the 1,891 faculty members of the University of Athens woke up to an unpleasant surprise. They didn't have access to their email accounts, and they couldn't connect to the web, not even from their offices. The university's entire electronic communications system was down.

The breakdown was not the result of technical difficulties. The faculty was deliberately isolated by a fringe leftist group that occupied the university's computer center and shut down the servers. The aim was to obstruct electronic voting in the election of a new governing body for the university.

Why such an extreme reaction to a university election? The story is one of entrenched interests reacting violently to change—all too typical of today's Greece.

Higher education in Greece is provided only by the government. Private universities, even nonprofit ones, are prohibited under the Greek constitution. This monopoly has led to a higher-education system that, like the Greek political system, is crippled by statism, cronyism, nepotism, corruption and inefficiency. Faculty members seeking to better their university have had to deal with decaying infrastructure, political patronage, minimal research funding and humiliatingly low salaries—and that was before the euro-zone crisis hit.


Read a related article (in Greek)

The Granger Collection, New York