The political and cultural dynamics of University Asylum Law in Greece
This thesis is about a special form of asylum, which is uniquely found in Greece. Besides all other forms of asylum such as ecclesiastical sanctuaries, political and diplomatic asylum, in Greece, in 1982 "University Asylum" was established as a constitutional right. It prohibits any state authority whether police, fire-brigade or army from entering university premises without the express permission of the university authorities or exceptionally in life threatening situations. As a result for the last twenty years in Greece, university campuses have been "non-policed" areas where crime control and order maintenance is solely a matter for the university community to deal with. This thesis aims to analyse the historical and socio-political context which gave rise to university asylum and the consequences, for crime and disorder, of having non-policed areas. Accordingly the thesis starts with a discussion of the concept of asylum as has been found from antiquity. Different civilisations in different times and in different ways had exercised the concept of asylum, which basically is the protection accorded to pursued persons. The concept of asylum has been shaped in various forms corresponding to the needs of each historical period. The fundamental idea of the concept of asylum has been to create an intermediary inviolable place for those fleeing their persecutors, where the asylum seekers can enjoy temporary protection from the authorities or individuals pursuing them until negotiations begin. However, in practice with the Greek "University Asylum" many problems of crime and disorder occurred inside universities, especially in universities located in urban areas, which sometimes were so serious that fear of crime increased and the feeling of security declined inside university premises. This research analyses the problematic of university asylum and its impact on crime and disorder inside universities. This study aims to contribute to the body of knowledge about the concept of asylum particularly university asylum. The main purpose of this thesis is the exposition and analysis not only of the university asylum law as it appears in books but also how it functions in reality as a mechanism of social control on university campuses. Greek university asylum is linked with the student political movement and the crisis in French universities in May 1968, and of course the dark times of the Greek military junta (1967-1974) and especially with the Athens Polytechnic University revolt (November 14-17,1973) when the junta police fatally intervened within the Polytechnic premises causing the death of many students who protested against the regime. Accordingly, this research throughout does not aim simply to describe and graphically document the criminological situation inside Greek universities as it was in the past decades and as it is now, but also seeks to explain and to evaluate it, in the light of its symbolic, criminological, legal and political significance. In particular this study seeks to examine the consequences of asylum law for crime and disorder inside Greek universities. For the needs of this study fieldwork has been carried out and empirical data gathered, which shown that although crime and disorder inside Greek universities is a serious problem it is often overestimated by the mass media. However, the problem of crime inside Greek universities is of less significance if compared with the criminality occurring outside university grounds. In addition the problem of university asylum raises not only legal and practical issues, in relation to criminal behaviour, but also political issues since from 1982 when the university asylum law was passed educational and socio-political conditions have changed. Accordingly some reformation of the university asylum law, if decided upon, should be in such a way that the fundamental meaning, the symbolism and ideology of the concept of university asylum remains the basic element of academic freedom, university teaching and scientific research in Greece.