University protests

Student protests: have there been an unusual number of them going on this year? I’ve seen next to nothing about them in the media, although from word-of-mouth they seem pretty damn huge:

In France, strikes effectively shut down the entire university system from February to May. That’s the longest student strike ever in France — longer than ’68, for instance.

And now, Austria and Germany are on the go. It started with with the occupation of the University of Vienna in late October. That sparked a large movement across Austria and Germany, which is claiming occupations of 80-odd univeristies. Today they’ve also been protesting at a meeting of state education ministers in Bonn — apparently with some success.

Obviously there’s always a low-level simmering of student protest, and it tends to be a dog-bites-man story that doesn’t much inconvenience anybody. The protesters are also monumentally incompetent at simplifying their message (which, very roughly, is about education becoming more driven by exams and money, to the detriment of actually learning anything). And I’m not convinced by attempts (common around here) to connect it to the protests in Greece and Iran; those aren’t really ‘student’ protests, no matter how prominent students are in them.

[this was going to be a post about going to the occupied Freie Universität yesterday, but I got sidetracked. Briefly, there was excellent music, and I got to re-meet my ex-housemate Lara — who, apart from being generally fantastic, has drawn the most wonderful picture of me. I will post photos, just as soon as I find somebody to take them for me :)]

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