Report from the First Assembly of Belgrade Universities
The First Assembly of belgrade University began with the Hymn to St. Sava and the University hymn, Gaudeamus igitur, performed by the choir of the School of Musics. After the introductory speech given by Marija Bogdanovic, Dean of the School of Philosophy and chairperson of the Assembly, the session went on according to the agenda:
1. The report on the activities of the Council of Deans, managers of the institutes and members of the Scientific-educational Council of Belgrade University.
2. The report on the activities of the Board for the defence of democracy at the University.
3. The report on the activities of students in the Protest 96/97.
4. Adopting of the decisions made in the session of the Scientific-educational Council of Belgrade University, held february 27, 1997.
5. The address of prof. Dragan Kuburovic, PhD, the acting Chancellor of Belgrade University.
6. Adopting of the Declaration of Serbian universities.
7. Adopting of the introductory points of the University Law.
Regarding the first item on the agenda, professor Fedor Zdanjski reported on the activities of the Scientific-educational Council of Belgrade University. At the beginning of the speech, he said that the University is everlasting, and that we are transient, concluding that the reputation of the University must not be blemished. Professor Zdanjski explained that the Scientific-educational Council stood for the autonomous university which would function freely and efficiently, adding that the establishment of some kind of parallel university was out of the question, since the University is one and only.
Milan Lazic, a member of the Board for the Defence of democracy gave the report about the activities of that organization. He stated that in future the Board would stand for the autonomy of the University and the democratization of the society first of all. The opinion of the Board is that the Chancellor of Belgrade University merely follows the instructions of the authorities, which, however, does not justify his actions. The Board expressed their support for the students' demands once again.
Miso Gavrilovic, the chairman of the Initiative Board of the Student Protest, was the next to address the gathering. He enumerated the successful activities of the Student Protest, and mentioned several services and coordinating organs constituted during the Protest, owing to which students successfully presented their demands and opinions in public. He concluded his address by stating that students would remain dignified in the course of their Protest, and that they would continue their struggle for democracy in this region.
Dejan Popovic read the decisions made by the Scientific - educational Council on February 27, and asked for their adoption by the Assembly. The decisions of the Scientific - educational Council were:
1. Prof. Dragan Velickovic, PhD, is no longer considered Chancellor of Belgrade University.
2. Prof. Dragan Kuburovic, PhD, is appointed the acting Chancellor of Belgrade University till new Chancellor has been elected.
3. Work groups and a coordination board should be appointed till new Chancellor has been elected.
All three decisions were adopted by public vote. In the course of the discussion of this item on the agenda, Nebojsa Popov, from the Institute of Philosophy, and Social Theory pointed out that the responsibility of the University itself for its present situation should be taken into consideration. He mentioned that 25 years earlier, the editorial of the "student" newspaper had been disbanded in the same hall in which the Assembly were having their session.
The newly appointed acting Chancellor, Dragan Kuburovic, addressed the Assembly after that. He stated that only by struggling for truth could one deserve to be considered a teacher.
He mentioned the accusations of the authorities in connection with the Chancellor's resignation, and suggested that the next convocation of the University Council should not consist of members of any parties, so that situations similar to the present one be avoided in future. Kuburovic said that the Scientific-educational Council dealt with University matters only, and that therefore there were no reasons for fear. He concluded his address by stressing that students must be backed in their demands. One of the suggestions heard during the discussion was that Dragutin Velickovic be removed from the Chancellor's office and that therefore a request be lodged with the Ministry of Education; should Velickovic refuse to leave, the police intervention ought to be demanded. Another suggestion was that the Assembly should strongly protest against the accusations of the authorities against the professors of Belgrade University, according to which the professors had stood for the loss of the school year. Such statements made by the authorities were qualified by the Assembly as outrageous insults.
Professor Kurepa, from the School of Physics, suggested that the compensation for the loss the University suffered because of the crisis brought about by the authorities (estimated at 800,000 DM) be demanded. The money would be divided by the schools proportionately to the number of students.
Srbijanka Turajlic read the Declaration of the Serbian universities. The Declaration was adopted by the Assembly (only one of the present professors and assistants abstained from voting). It was stressed that further written suggestions for the Declaration would be taken into consideration.
At the end, Dejan Popovic presented the document with the introductory points for the University Law. He pointed out that the Law must be formulated and put into effect in time, as a response to the regime's future intentions for the University. Further suggestions for this law would also be accepted in written form. The suggestion was accepted by vote.
The Assembly session was concluded after this.