Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Protests at Humboldt

Mike is enjoying the start of his winter break in Kyrgystan right now, but it's been a tumultuous end to the semester at Humboldt. Shortly after the new year, Mike noticed protests taking place and his classes began to get cancelled.  Students were upset because a former professor, Andrej Hohm was forced to resign from his position as State Housing Secretary after it was revealed that the information about his time in the Stasi was not true. Hahm had stated previously that he was only associated with the Stasi part-time when he was a teenager, but officially he was employed full-time.  It does sound like it was more of a misunderstanding, but there is still a lot of resentment towards the Stasi (rightfully so).

The protests started mid-January and seemed focused on getting Hahm a position at the university or to be rehired as State Housing Secretary. Soon, though, the protests became focused less on Hahm and spiralized out of control. The university was hesitant to step in out of fear of bad press.  Homeless people joined in and soon the building was a messy campground instead of a protest site. The university refused to pay for cleaning, but the protesters couldn't afford to do that either.

The protesters soon added other requests to their agenda and somehow were able to dictate what classes were able to be held in classrooms.  If the topic of discussion for the day didn't meet their approval, class would be cancelled.  When Mike was really sick with mono, we were worried he would miss multiple sessions of the same class, but that was during the height of the protest, so he actually only missed a few classes total.  

We weren't sure how things would end, especially as the end of the semester neared. Last week, right before the semester ended, we got word that the protest had ended and some sort of resolution had been agreed upon.  I haven't heard what agreement the two sides came to, but the protesters were gone when Mike went to his last class.

I'm not sure what is being done to clean up the building or repair the damages that came from the month long protest and now is Mike's winter break, so it will be a month until we find out, but it definitely made for an exciting end to the semester!