University students, researchers, professors and staff are currently occupying the director’s floor in the building of the university administration of Helsinki University in Finland. This happened as an offshoot of a demonstration against a new draconian “reform” soon to be presented to the Finnish parliament. The new laws (more below) would change the choice of the governing councils of the university, essentially depriving the universities of autonomy, likely putting non-university board members in key positions (business people and politicians) and importantly, introducing the possibility of charging fees for non-EU students, which in Europe is used as a back-door precedent followed by demanding tuition fees from everyone—the failed free-market model.
Many words were heard in reference to other movements to Greece, France, Italy, India. And then the news came in that students at New York University (http://takebacknyu.com/) are practising direct democracy of the same sort.
Below is the statement from Helsinki.
Solidarity from the University of Helsinki to the occupants at NYU
Today on Thursday, February the 19th, we occupied the administration building of our university.
This took place after our demonstration against the new Universities Act proposed by the Finnish government. The parliament will decide about the law this Spring. We demand the law to be withdrawn. We want to reform our university from a totally different, more democratic perspective.
We are also protesting against the university leadership which has given its support to the law despite our opposition.
The law we are opposing would significantly increase the influence corporations have on our university and thus our science. We are defending the autonomy of knowledge and the freedom of research. We are also defending the free access to higher education as stated in the Finnish Constitution. We are not defending our university as it is, we want to create autonomous spaces for producing and sharing information.
Our demonstration today was participated by 1500 people. It was organised autonomously by students and university staff, independently of their unions. After the demonstration, a group of more than 100 demonstrators occupied this building. Today we have made our voices heard and we will keep doing so until we win!
We want to send you our solidarity. We share your struggle!