Fight for Free Education in Lithuania¶
Before 2008, 50 % of places in the universities were free. However then the conservatives and liberals came to power and reduced this number to 10 %. The tuition fees increased from about 200-300 to 3000 euros. This is a huge amount of money, having regard to the fact that Lithuania is one of the poorest countries in the EU. Step by step the universities are becoming private companies following the USA model.
In 2008, for the first time in the Lithuanian history the students built a barricade and started the occupation of the Vilnius University. However other students who were organising the protest called police and asked to arrest the occupants. They did so because they were affraid that their professors would punish them for the protest. Me and my friend were detained. You can watch the occupation here www.youtube.com/watch?v=LwA3sCQvaEk. The police stoped the occupation in 30 minutes. Later the Court recognised us innocent.
The Lithuanian students lost their fight and there are three main reasons :
1) The was a fight among « moderate » and « radical » students. Each time when « radicals » were organising protests, « moderates » were calling police. The moderates – not the university or the police – started judicial proceedings against radicals. The moderates tried to present « radicals » as children of Satan and anarchists to the journalists.
2) Most radicals were appealing not to vote during elections – to boycott all political parties. This was a mistake – they had to ask students to vote for the left parties and candidates. The « moderate » students were appealing to vote for liberals. Finally, Lithuania got a conservative-liberal government. I believe that you can sit a year in occupation – the government will not pay attention. What is good in protests is that you convince the SOVIETY (not the goverment). And the society will vote for left candidates.
3) Lithuania has an extremely hierarchical culture. There is no a tradition of protest, there is no pattern to disagree with someone who occupies a higher place in the social hierarchy. For instance, once we convinced a number of new students to join the protest. Then a student from the Lithuanian Union of Students’ Representations came and told that the Representation does not authorise the protest. Most of the students went home. Lithuania has a culture of poverty and slavery.
One of the innovation of the protesting students is the poster « Dubilius is a Kick » – if you replace the letters « D » and « B », you get « Kubilius is a Dick » (or « Kubilius bybys » in Lithuanian – Kubilius is the name of the conservative, christian democratic Prime Minister, and « bybys » is a vulgar word for « penis »).