Legal nemesis for the agents of hubris (1 of 2)

June 7, 2012

George Th. Mavrogordatos' "Styx and stones" (24 May) is a breath of fresh air, and in my view an accurate summary of the present state of affairs in many Greek universities.

The situation in Greek higher education can well be described as dire, and its institutional and administrative structures desperately need to be improved, precisely along the lines that Law 4009 intends. The refusal of certain administrators (and student groups) to permit the application of this law is, and should be, a scandal: the democratically elected government of Greece passed a law, and if the provosts, rectors and deans would prefer not to serve in universities that obey that law, they are free to resign: they are not, or should not be, free to refuse to apply it.

Mavrogordatos' description of the libraries, the condition of the campuses, the insane "asylum" law and its effects, and the resulting demoralisation of earnest and serious students and faculty is entirely accurate. (And it was very salutary of him to criticise the waste and abuse of the convention of giving free textbooks to every student: I have seen stacks of Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales go directly from the students' hands to the flea markets and trash cans; there is no earthly reason these books couldn't have been purchased for the libraries, and not for individual student ownership.)

Despite vocal protestations to the contrary, there is very little educational or intellectual substance to the opposition to Law 4009. One can only hope that the improvements it envisages are implemented soon, allowing Greek universities to take their place among the developed world's high-calibre research institutions.

Jason Merchant, Chair, department of linguistics, University of Chicago

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