A stab in the back?

From the circles near to the Initiative Board of the Student Protest 96/97 we discover about the contents of the yesterday's informal (?) session of the Council of the Deans and the Main Board (GO).

Out of a few items on the agenda we will single out one that is of a crucial interest to the Student Protest, the student demands, the status and the well-being of the students in this country.

Stanimir Miljkovic, the representative of the School of Electric Engineering in the GO, presented the proposal of the Council of the Deans for the further course of the student and university activities in Belgrade. According to this proposal the Educational-scientific Council of the BU would meet with the Chancellor on Thursday. Professor Kuburovic would be in charge at this meeting, being the oldest of the three existing Vice-chancellors. The following decisions would be brought at this meeting:

  1. The resolution on the replacement of the Chancellor Dragutin Velickovic.
  2. The resolution on the replacement of the Student Vice-chancellor Vojin Djurdjevic.
  3. The resolution on naming, and the naming itself of the acting Chancellor until the next official elections for this function are conducted.
  4. The resolution on naming the Student Vice-chancellor. The students would (most likely through a referendum) elect their representative in the Chancellor's office.
  5. The resolution on convocation the Assembly of the BU (which would be autonomous from now on), attended by the entire scientific-educational faculty. The future Law on the University which would probably be adopted independently from the Government - this wasn't stated precisely) would be discussed at the assembly.
  6. The resolution on sending a letter to the Chancellor Conference of Europe.

The Deans also pointed out that they wouldn't be directly appealing to the students to go back to their schools, that the students would vote on this proposal (but it was intoned in such a way as if it goes without saying that they would start classes on Monday...)

After this presentation, the students commented on the proposals.

The answer to the question about the role of the old Chancellor in the new order was that he would be allowed to attend the sessions, but would take no part in any of the actions or decisions.

Then a more significant question followed. What would happen to the students whose Deans wouldn't agree to the putsch that is being planned? This mostly applies to the Schools of Veterinary Medicine and of Agriculture, because they have been put under great pressure by the Government and its organs and as a result to this they (mostly professors, that is) are frightened of the possible consequences. As a response to this dilemma, which is, by the way, quite realistic, a comment of Borivoj Lazic, the Dean of the School of Electric Engineering followed: "Don't take it so seriously. You are really exaggerating." (during his statement, he was smiling).

Misa Gavrilovic, the presiding officer of the Initiative Board, gave a laconic answer to the question about who will be receiving the Chancellor's salary from the Ministry, saying that it is not important (?!). Another comment (from one of the Deans) was "We are not interested." Yet another significant question (and a matching reply) was what the consequences would be if the GO voted against the adoption of the proposal by the Council of the Deans. Fedor Zdanjski said that in this case they "will see" what they will do next, or in other words, that they will vote on the future proceedings (the answer was, actually, only mumbled and quite vague).

During the session, a big debate (even a verbal conflict) occurred among the members of the GO and other students present, whether this is an act of betrayal or help in the crucial moments of not only the Student Protest but our entire future in this country as well. The session was interrupted when the members of the GO from all the schools walked out.

Before everything, one essential question needs to be asked. Is all this, that the gentlemen from the Council of the Deans are planning, at all legal? Do they have the freedom of action to make any resolutions (in this case more than one substantial decision) connected with the University policy instead of the Council of the BU - whose mandate has expired (and a new one hasn't been formed yet). The Law on the University, in the Chapter about the self-government organs, paragraph 101, item 50, cites: "Only the Council of the University (which consists of an equal number of members both of the Scientific-educational Council and of the Government - according to paragraph 100) can elect and dismiss the Chancellor and the Student Vice-chancellor of the University". NOWHERE does it define which organ is in charge of making these decisions in the case the Council of the University is non-existent. In this case, it turns out that, if we accept the proposal of the Council of the deans, we are accepting an illegal process of the dismissal of the old and appointing the new leadership in the Chancellor's office of the BU. As a result, the University receives a make-believe autonomy, based on illegal decisions. That, on the other hand, is not the turnout we fought for in our protest, nor is the true fulfillment of the second and third demands of the Student Protest 96/97.

The other, stunning, and, hopefully incorrect possibility is that this has been arranged between the Government and our Deans and professors, who, by supporting the student demands, only set ground for our true return to the school desks without complete fulfillment of any of the three demands (let me remind you, the lex specialis confirmed the report of the OSCE about the local elections in Serbia, and not the original electoral results from November 17th). As a result of this assumption one conclusion arises; everything that the students accomplished with their separate protest was the acknowledgement of the mandates of the "Zajedno" coalition, but not the democratic principle of supporting and recognizing the general will of the citizens at the elections, nor the dismissal of the Chancellor and the Student Vice-chancellor of the BU. Can 100 days of protesting be permanently taken away by only a few signatures on nothing but a piece of paper, PLEASE, judge for yourself!


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