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Our University

Our University

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Published by gkaratsioubanis

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Published by: gkaratsioubanis on Nov 11, 2009
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11/11/2009

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Austria’s students’ protests“Our university, our lives!”For nearly three weeks now students in Austria have been occupying theiruniversities and protesting. Solidarity is strong and protests are spreading andconnecting – into and with other countries’ universities and other spheres ofsociety.Nobody thought of such a widespread development of protest and solidarity like weexperiencing now when University and “usual” political work started after thesummer holidays in the beginning of autumn.There has been going on a long struggle about studentsinstitutionalisedrepresenting in all ranks
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from institutes to countrywide representation,organisations, person, groups outside of institutions, working and lecturing persons.Reasons for anger and protest we had – like in every other country – enough: De-democratisation, study fees and only partial abolishment, time pressure,competition, abolishing of choice, definition of education as service anduniversities as companies and studying barriers and exclusion as part of the socialand economical reality of patriarch hierarchies, structural racism, growing classdifference combined with the neo-liberal dogma of total competition and globalfree enterprise.It came to happen that the protests of the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna (herethere is to mention a unique traditional alliance between students, employees,lectors, profs and direction) against the full implementation of the Bologna process(Bachelor – Master- system) covering all faculties sparked a "fire of protest”, thatspread to “burning” all over Austria.On October, 20
th
the Academy was occupied. From the very beginning it wasrecognised that the university is part of society and therefore struggles have toface the whole situation of society. Two days afterwards the occupation spreadover in course of a demonstration to Vienna’s biggest university where mainly thesocial sciences and humanities are located. Thousands of students occupied the“Auditorium Maximum”, traditionally a symbolical important place of the students’movement and further rooms were to follow. Within the shortest possible time theorganisation of different structures, working groups, workshops, peoples’ kitchen,alternative lessons, sessions and cultural programme evolved. Also critique andstruggles for emancipatory, leftwing consensus grows and is having successes.The main characterizing factor and difference to the big University- strike in 1987e.g., of the so called “burning uni”- protest is interestingly the absence oforganisational leadership of institutions or traditional leftwing organisations. Singlepersons get active, come together – either members of political groups like KSV –LiLi (student's organisation in alliance with the CPA) activists or “apolitical” peopleso far. Parts of the self- named “movement” aren’t in self-description notnecessarily leftwing and sometimes not even “political”, whatever that means. It’sthousands of people coming to discussions, ten thousands to demonstrations. Maybebecause media reports this time aren’t devastating so far, not like they normallyare when protests are concerned. And maybe again because the government and
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in Austria there is a legal representation of students, therefore it is financially and politicallycomparably strong. The communist students’ alliance KSV – LiLi is also part of it this representation– called “Österreichische Hochschüler_innenschaft”

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