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Student activists determined to remain at the blockade until the controversial Study Progress Reforms are withdrawn. Situation complicated by a planned visit by NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg on Monday.
The activist group Et andet universitet (Danish for A Different University) had announced Wednesday that they, in concert with actions at University of Aarhus and RUC, would take over the rectorial offices Thursday, 16 April. The group however jumped the gun and initiated the action Wednesday afternoon.
The rectorial hallways are blocked ‘indefinitely’ – that is, until both the Study Progress Reform and the Resizing Model are withdrawn, they say. Only the office hallway itself is blocked – Administration personnel in the surrounding offices and Nørregade 10 are not affected by the operation.
The action started at 15.00 Wednesday, when 20 students politely knocked on the doors of the secretariat, and informed the 8-10 employees at work that they had 15 minutes to gather their belongings and go home – and that the rectorial offices hereby were occupied. Vice director of the rectorial secretariat, Steen Ulrich proceeded to wish them good luck and left the blockade, after an exchange of phone numbers and an admonition to take good care of the old fixtures.
According to Magnus Esmark, the group’s spokesman, the protest isn’t just about being unhappy with the controversial Study Progress Reform and Resizing Model: Et andet universitet believes that a series of reforms from the last 10-15 years have turned the university into a factory aiming to churn graduates out as fast as possible.
“We want the university to produce free knowledge that isn’t controlled by the private sector for the benefit of everyone. We want to create a true democracy for students and staff at the university, and rid the university board of businessmen,” Magnus Esmark said Wednesday before the action started.
According to KUnet.dk, the UCPH intranet, Rector Ralf Hemmingsen will not actually be there, as he is away.
University director Honoré called on staff Wednesday to not get into conflict with the students.
“Experiences from earlier demonstrations have shown us that we can achieve some agreement with the demonstrators on which rooms we can use and how. I recommend that staff do not attempt to breach the blockade, and that they avoid all confrontations with the students,” he says.
The situation has been complicated by a planned visit by NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg on Monday. The University of Copenhagen has moved the visit to another location on CSS, city campus. Whether the move has anything to do with the occupation is not clear.
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