Ivana Mijic, of the MYPLACE team at Ivo Pilar Institute of Social Sciences, Croatia, blogs on Occupation.
For more information on the MYPLACE project, visit the project’s website: HERE
An independent student initiative for the right for free education in the spring of 2009 occupied the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences in Zagreb. This peaceful occupation was the outcome of movements within the student population that became more articulated in 2008, when a protest on May 7th was organized by students of FFZG and PMF. This was the biggest student protest since Croatia gained independence with around 5000 students primly protesting against the introduction of fees for graduate courses and the chaos that Bologna reform has brought to unprepared Universities. It seems that one of the main goals of reform in Croatia was the beginning of commercialization of education and students recognized it as a reason for their more active and visible participation in political life. Events that followed, and still take place, resulted in something that we might call a new student movement in Croatia.
The Occupation that started on 20th April of 2009, had much bigger space in media and it has influenced public debate about reforms and changes in education more profoundly than earlier protests. Independent group of students occupied university buildings and enabled all regular classes that had to take place. All other faculty services such as libraries or administration worked normally. All the time during the occupation an alternative education program was organized by students themselves through a series of different kinds of events such as lectures, movie screenings, workshops etc. A leaflet called Scripta
was published with all important news and decisions as well as articles, letters of support, opinions and facts mainly concerning education. An assembly called a plenum was held every evening in the biggest lecture room at the faculty. It was open to everybody, students as well as citizens. It is a kind of open plenary session where different things were discussed and voted on and every day had to be decided whether to continue occupation or not. It was organized by direct democracy principals. The occupation was ended on May 24th after majority on plenum voted to suspend it. During these 35 days many others Faculties as well as Universities in other cities across country were occupied in same way with the same demands and methods, but mostly not so successfully. After the first occupation a plenum was held once a week until 23rd November when the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences in Zagreb was occupied again for nearly 2 weeks, until December 4th 2009.
The latest occupation started on October 24th and lasted until Wednesday 26th after some student demands were accepted. Plenum and working groups are still active. All current news and important information can be found at official webpage www.slobodnifilozofski.com .