Andrew Johnson: Greece column follow-up

Eric Murphy


As a follow-up to my column today regarding the Greek economy and the country’s higher education woes, here’s the link to the Bloomberg article that I referenced.


An area that I wasn’t able to touch on in my column, but one worth noting is the electoral influence Greek students had on their universities’ administrative positions. Up until a year ago, students elected their universities’ deans. Sounds Athenian enough, with its high regard for democracy and the voice of the populace (except for, as I wrote in my column, the fact that students are obstructing voters from casting ballots).


Where this gets problematic though is that, under law, deans were the only ones who could authorize police to come onto campus. So when Greek students were protesting on campus or causing havoc, it was politically advantageous for elected deans to not call on the police to intervene for fear of upsetting their “constituents” and losing their position. Because of this, crime and drugs are increasingly rampant on these campuses, and protests can be destructive. It’s an idea with good intentions, but questionable and dangerous outcomes.


I bring this up only as food for thought given the graduate student union elections here on campus this week. I know the circumstances are completely different, and I’m not at all trying to say that efforts for unionization are equivalent to rioting Greek students. Merely, the idea of allowing students to democratically decide upon certain aspects of their university, especially administrative and financial ones, has its pros and cons; sure, we’re educated adults, or at least working toward that, but our lack of experience on matters bigger than ourselves and wants can also mean maybe our judgment isn’t as sound as we may think.


Lastly, and unrelated, I discussed how the Greek citizens are paying the price, or failing to do so, for these students to essentially freeload their way to a degree, if they ever happen to get one. But we Americans are also picking up some of the tab for Greece: about $37 billion of the most recently approved $170 billion bailout for the struggling country came from the IMF, an organization funded considerably by the United States taxpayers.   


–Andrew Johnson