On October 9, 2020, unidentified individuals vandalized the office of Andrea Boudouvi, rector of the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA), to intimidate or threaten him, apparently over the university’s alleged plans to renovate a historic building on campus.
In a public statement, the rector’s office stated that at around 10:00 AM, a group of “hooded” individuals with hammers, crowbars, and paint stormed the office and caused extensive damage. Paint was splattered on furniture and the walls, slogans were spraypainted on the walls, and printers and other electronic equipment were destroyed. The group fled the premises immediately after vandalizing the rector’s office.
On October 11, photos of the rector’s office were published online by a group of self-described anarchists claiming responsibility for the vandalism. According to the anarchist group’s statement, when the vandals entered the university building, the rector was in his office and was forced to flee through a back door. The group denounced a renovation plan for a historic building on campus that was to be converted into a research and conference center. The building had been used as an open meeting space for students and other residents of Athens.
The rector’s office indicated it would take legal action against the perpetrators following a police investigation. As of May 2021, it remains unclear whether or not the perpetrators were discovered and apprehended.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about vandalism intended to intimidate or threaten higher education administrators. State and higher education authorities should investigate and hold responsible perpetrators of such attacks, and take steps to prevent future attacks, in accordance with international standards relating to academic freedom and institutional autonomy. While civilians have a right to exercise their rights to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly, they also have a responsibility to refrain from activities that intimidate or threaten members of the higher education community, or that violate university autonomy. Such incidents undermine institutional autonomy and democratic society generally.
*SAR identified this incident in data made publicly available by the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED).