Betrayal of the Protest?
The Student Protest 96/97 has been lasting for more than a hundred days now. Our numbers at Plato and in the streets were sufficient, sometimes lesser and sometimes larger than that. We may say that up to now the Student Protest has quite successfully resisted the rain and the snow, the police and the "tricks" played on us by the authorities. And what is happening now? Yours truly has asked herself this question quite a few times this week.
As you have probably heard already from various sources, during the past few days voting has been organized at several schools, with the aim of deciding upon the continuation and the form of the Protest. On the other hand, the professors' Assembly met on Sunday and started a struggle from their own position. There are certain rumors that the students have done their lot, and that they should withdraw now and let the professors continue the struggle for the autonomy of the University. From a freshman's point of view, it all seems almost ideal: people who are more competent and, if you like it, more cunning than us would take our struggle on themselves, while we could return to classes and escape the danger of losing the whole school year. Well, everything would probably be ideal if it were not the personal opinion of a (still naive) freshman, and if the professors and Deans in question were not only more competent, but at the same time experienced in all sorts of affairs as well.
Why am I writing this?
Because it is rather strange that the idea of professors turning their backs on the Chancellor (which has existed for more than a month now) appears on the agenda in the moment when some people have started announcing loudly that lectures cannot (?!) be compensated at certain technical schools, and that the Protest might dissipate.
Because there is a gap between our efforts to conduct the Protest and the strike legally (we have broken traffic rules only) and the illegal method adopted by the Deans and professors. I am not against their activities, but, at the same time, I would not support them without thinking first. I believe that a high majority of the professors participates in this with good intentions, but, as a student, I must not forget that they have their positions at schools and institutes, which means they have something to lose in case the authorities decide to make "a decisive move".
We are facing a number of questions.
Do we have to go back to classrooms? NO - because there is a number of possible (and practicable) solutions for the compensation of lectures and continuation of the school year if the Protest should go on. The only problem might be the people who will make decisions on this matter (Mr Velickovic certainly will not be on our side). Besides, should we lose a year, all future generations would lose it as well. It seems that the present Government is aware of possible future demonstrations of secondary school students and their parents, so it does not make any statements about the freezing of the school year. Is it possible for us to return to classes now? Yes; if afterwards we could look into one another's eyes without shame.
Would we achieve anything by passing the ball to the professors who have not even come up with an actual plan of their future activities. Can we trust in their good intentions only, without considering possible mixing of personal interests with the whole matter? And finally, would our returning to classrooms now mean the betrayal of the Protest, or the surrender?
These are some of the problems the author of the text has been thinking over. I believe that you might have the same dilemmas. The author would like to thank a former student of Belgrade University for useful information.