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Czech ethnology students begin strike in defense of fired teachers

7.5.2015 7:42
The launch of the ethnology students' strike at Charles University, 6 May 2015. (PHOTO:  bau)
The launch of the ethnology students' strike at Charles University, 6 May 2015. (PHOTO: bau)

Yesterday morning began a two-day occupational strike by ethnology students at Charles University in Prague. The students want the director of the Institute of Ethnology, Marek Jakoubek, to be removed and hope their protest action will draw attention to ongoing changes with which they disagree.

"We are open to a dialogue about what the Institute should look like in the future. We are certain it needs some changes, we completely agree with that, but the way in which those changes are currently happening is unacceptable to us. We have lost faith in the notion that the docent's leadership might change the Institute of Ethnology for the better," the protesting students told news server

The students are particularly bothered by recent personnel changes; five educators have been let go since the beginning of the year. "No one is throwing us out, we are just defending ourselves because they are getting rid of our instructors. We were accepted into a program that had some kind of accreditation and now that is changing. We will have to find new supervisors for our Bachelor's and Master's theses. However, it's an open question who will even be left at the Institute by September, because other departures are being planned and some instructors' contracts are ending. The accreditation commission is also affected by these changes," the students told  

Mirjam Friedová, the Dean of the Faculty of Arts, stands by the director of the Institute. "I cannot back down in the face of such pressure, that's out of the question, because the first victim of that would be the Institute of Ethnology itself," she said in an interview for news server

The strike program includes a debate about current events, lectures and a theater performance. The protesters planned to sleep in the arcade of the faculty building on Jan Palach Square last night.  

bau, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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