Dean sacks staff, students accuse him of political motives
By Salome Modebadze
Tuesday, September 18
The students union known as Laboratory 1918, held a protest rally in front of Tbilisi State University (TSU) on the first day of the new academic semester on September 17. Opposed to the dismissal of professors “on a political basis” the students expressed their mistrust towards Alexander Kvitashvili, the head of TSU under the slogan "University for Students and Freedom to University."
The former rector of the National Defence Academy (NDA), Barnovi was also the deputy Minister of Defence in 2011-2012. Talking of Barnovi’s “political sympathy” towards the ruling party, the students have suspicions that he was sent to the university to “control the situation” and “hold every student in his palm.”
“Should I have asked you whom to appoint?” the TSU head addressed the students, stressing that he had personally invited Barnovi to fill the position of a dean for a six-month term so that his activities could further define whether he would keep his position or not. “He is neither elected nor appointed, but invited,” Kvitashvili said, denying the dismissal of TSU professors on political grounds.
He said although he has good relations with economic analyst Nodar Khaduri and philosopher Lela Gaprindashvili, he mentioned that they did not satisfy the demands of the TSU competition which Kvitashvili said are open to lecturers despite their political ideology.
Students have created a Facebook page where they have expressed solidarity to the dismissed lecturers and demand their reinstatement to TSU's faculty. In his recent interviews with for.ge, the Georgian Dream member Nodar Khaduri wished the university would stand higher to any political party or politics in general.
Stressing that he has never made political statements at TSU, Khaduri could not explain his “failure” at the competition for the position he had been holding for years. “So the only argument remains the political issue,” he said, stressing that the university should be free from political bias.
The head of TSU found the students’ demands partly “fair” in terms of the databases, but he said the relations between the students and the faculty cannot be normalized by shouting at each other.
“Be afraid of us – the students,” they shouted to Kvitashvili and accused the University of being an “autocracy.” Expressing mistrust towards the TSU head, the students demanded the abolition of the regents’ council, the normalization of student databases and punishment of “the violator” members of the university’s self-government. They said the quality of education at TSU is not adequate with the increased study fees and added that the head of the university and his staff receive high salaries for nothing.
Later Andro Barnovi agreed to talk to the students in an office but they refused to talk to the former officials and demanded that he admit to dismissing the professors. They said they need a dean that will develop their faculty, not “limit” the rights of the students.
TSU students said they did not receive any answers to their questions. Encouraging the students of other universities to express their solidarity and support them, Laboratory 1918 plans to continue large-scale demonstrations to achieve the desired results.