Autonomy! Autonomy! Autonomy! – Students occupy in the Republic of Macedonia

by Nick Evans. Originally published at RS21.

Students took over SS Cyril and Methodius University in Skopje yesterday (11 February), declaring it an ‘autonomous zone’ under ‘student control’. This is the latest phase in a growing student movement: there have been large protests since November of last year against a planned law that will make it compulsory for all students to take a single state exam. There are more photos of the occupation last night here.

The exam is viewed as an attempt to extend political control over universities. In response to calls from activists in Macedonia, an open letter with signatories including Judith Butler, Slavoj Žižek and Tariq Ali, was published, condemning the reforms.  The demonstrations in December brought thousands of students, university workers and others onto the streets of Skopje and other cities of Macedonia. There were also solidarity demonstrations in Serbia.

The Student Plenum, which has been coordinating the protests, says students are taking action to oppose the top-down neoliberal management of their universities, and to transform the universities into an ‘autonomous zone’. Students have also organised solidarity demonstrations for university workers, to defend their right to strike.

Students have reached out to show solidarity outside their universities. Torrential rainfall has caused floods across southern Europe in the past few weeks. 100,000 people in the Republic of Macedonia have been affected. Last Friday (6 February) students organised deliveries of water, sanitary products, canned food, socks and clothing and blankets to flood victims, in an echo of the Occupy Sandy network in the US.