NGO Aktiv organized a discussion ‘’Student revolt, unicorns and other mythical creatures’’, which took place within the premises of the Mitrovica Social Club.
Guests of the debate were Oliver Tošković, university professor, and Miloš Damjanović, history teacher, who discussed the differences between students in Serbia in the nineties and those of today, the role and social responsibility of the academic society in cherishing democracy, as well as the ways in which the students’ energy is channeled.
Professor Oliver Tošković said that it is difficult to draw parallels between students of the nineties and those of today, due to the simple fact that in the past he also used to be a student himself, and that today he teaches as a professor on Pristina and Belgrade Universities. He added that his perception and views of the issue discussed is slightly different.
‘’The first metaphor that comes to my mind is the way students, as well as citizens, perceive the current situation as if it looks like a music rock scene of the 1990s or today. A breakup of the state took place, with a completely chaotic situation, which witnessed a period a rock bands’ boom, a development of punk music, rebellion and rock,”said Tošković, referring to the fact that there were so many bands and shows covering the topic of music before. Even though such shows exist today they are not heard, as he sees the reason for this in the media control.
It was pointed out that there is little driving force among students today and that the protests, which are not so often organized, are shaped by the political forces. ‘’When it came to these demonstrations, I was not actively involved in running, organizing or hosting them. The reason is that these are student activities that did not come from the students themselves, it was not their authentic initiative. It is a classic instrumentalized political process’’, said Miloš Damjanović.
On the other hand, Tošković stated that he nonetheless praised his students for initiating at least any kind of action. ‘’I think it is better that something at least happened, that the students were heard, rather being the ones who are not students at all. In this regard, if we are talking about student activism, yes, something definitely happened. On the other hand, when you read the statements and assess the media coverage, I completely agree with my colleague Miloš, there is almost no difference in the messages, formulations and substance of the ideas conveyed by the student protests from the statements made by the authorities,‘’ added Tošković.
Therefore, a question arises who should teach students on how to initiate sound social actions. On the one hand, it is up to those who should educate students, and where a kind of responsibility actually lies in terms of teaching them that they must be free citizens of the academic community and be a real driving force, without any kind of external political interference.
“It is the obligation and the duty of the teaching staff to be the initiators and generators of social activism among students, the ones who will support, direct and encourage them. They should be the ones who will give them ideas and inspire them,’’ says Damjanović, adding that this is a precondition of a functional and adequate professorship – to be the inspirers of student activism.
At the end of the debate it was concluded that there is a need of a greater non-political social engagement among students and an increase of interest for social and cultural events. If one of the pillars of a well-functioning society is destroyed and if crucial changes do not take place, we are inevitably heading towards an irreversible social and moral decay.