Current UC Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi has been under fire for her involvement in the pepper spraying of peaceful protesters on Nov. 18, 2011.
The beleaguered chancellor has attempted to reconcile with students through numerous avenues, including various e-mails, speeches, conferences and television appearances, meant to instill student trust and confidence back in the hands of the chancellor.
Katehi’s current position in the battle between the student activists and the right to peacefully protest is being questioned, due to her past as an active student protester in her native Greece.
Katehi attended the National Technical University of Athens, popularly known as Athens Polytechnic, home to 17 November, a massive student uprising against the oppressive Greek military junta from 1967 to 1974, a right wing military government also termed “The Regime of the Colonels.”
The stringent military regime present in Greece in the year 1973 abolished rudimentary human rights, rejected the idea of political parties, exiled politicians and attacked individuals who voiced or expressed negative opinions in relation to the active government.
Students attending Athens Polytechnic were outraged by the junta’s grip on not only the politics of the country, but the student body as well. The university was subject to forceful draft of left-wing students, the banning of student-run elections and the enforcement of non-elected student syndicate leaders in the EFEE, the national student’s syndicate.
“I never considered myself to be an anarchist or a radical element. I would say my views are very democratic and progressive. I felt that I was demonstrating not because I believed in anarchy or wanted no government, but because I believed that government was not good for Greece,” Katehi said last week.
A series of junta actions culminated into the uprisings on November 14, 1973; students in attendance went on strike, and subsequently barricaded themselves within the confines of the university.
The students built a radio station, whereby “Here is Polytechneion! People of Greece, the Polytechneion is the flag bearer of our struggle and your struggle, our common struggle against the dictatorship and for democracy!” was played on repeat throughout the city of Athens.
On Nov. 17, 1973, the number of protesters flourished in the thousands to include the citizenry at large, joining activists within the university as well as outside the walls of Athens Polytechnic, standing against the oppressive military government.
Approximately 25 AMX 30 tanks were ordered on the campus premises, crashing through the gates of Athens Polytechnic, killing an unaccounted for number of students and supportive protesters.
“There were students holding the bars (of the perimeter fence) and screaming. We were outside (of them), screaming,” Katehi said. “Then they brought the tanks, later at night, and they just walked over the students, practically, to enter the building. And then they had snipers, so we ended up running,” Katehi said.
The events that occurred during 17 November set the stage for the restoration of Parliamentary democracy and an end to the corrupt reign of the military junta.
“The events of 1973 are regarded — rightly or wrongly — as the beginning of the end of the military dictatorship in Greece, the catalyst of a new political order and an ideological point of reference for the post-1974 political landscape,” said Greek Columnist Costas Iordanidis in an article.
Perhaps the real question is:
“Do we hold Chancellor Katehi to a different standard knowing she was involved in 17 November?” said UC Davis assistant professor Victoria Langland.
Katehi directly referenced 17 November on November 21, 2011 when she delivered a tearful speech on the Quad, apologizing for the previous week’s incidents.
“I was there, and I don’t want to forget that,” Katehi said.
Some information in this article was found at athensinfoguide.com.
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