On January 20, 2022, the National Aviation University (NAU) expelled the president of the student government, Volodymyr Paderin, along with two other students, apparently for his opposition to a major construction project on the university’s property and other administration decisions.
According to posts made by Paderin on social media shortly after his expulsion, he and the two other students violated university housing rules by drinking in a dormitory on December 26, 2021, which university security discovered. At the time, the members of university security who spoke to the students told them that the punishment would be “nothing terrible;” however, university officials later informed them that they were being expelled for the violation. Paderin asserts that the expulsion is an unconventional punishment for a housing violation and that the rector signed the expulsion order without following the process mandated by Ukrainian law.
In the months leading up to his expulsion, Paderin had voiced concern over the controversial construction of a residential complex on the university’s property and participated in a media investigation into the construction, during which he stated that the university administration had failed to consult the student government about the decision. On Facebook, Paderin claimed that his rushed expulsion was due to his opposition to the construction. He has sent complaints regarding his expulsion to multiple government and university bodies.
Scholars at Risk is concerned by a university expelling students for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression – conduct which is protected by international human rights instruments, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Ukraine is a party. University authorities must refrain from taking action to restrict or chill expressive activity. In addition to harm to the immediate victims, the expulsion of students for peaceful expressive activity undermines academic freedom and democratic society generally.