While Roin Metreveli was re-elected for the third term on the post of the Rector of the Tbilisi State University, a part of the students were preparing a law suit protesting against his re-election.
Academician Roin Metreveli, Communist Party activist in the Soviet period and unchanged rector of the major Georgian university for the last 11 years, was re-elected for another 6 years by the main governing body of the Tbilisi State University (TSU) on April 21. As the students say this has become possible after Metreveli unilaterally amended the charter of the university with permission of the President in 2001.
A part of students believe that the amendments violate several laws. They decided to appeal to the court.
But aside from legal arguments, some students say they do not want to bear the “business as usual.” The university’s administration did not allow the students and journalists to attend the meeting of the University’s Great Council (the main governing body) and observe election of the rector. “Add to all these facts that Metreveli was the only candidate, nominated to the post and it turns to be a purely Soviet-style event. We do not want things like this any more,” Levan Nozadze, the University’s student told Civil Georgia.
Tea Tutberidze, third year student of the Law Department claims that the university’s charter is illegal since it contradicts the Law on Education, which stipulates the structure of the elections, and the General Administrative code, that calls for the openness of the public institutions.
“Elections of the rector were conducted illegally. First of all meetings in the public institutions should be held openly, but on April 21 only Metreveli’s supporters students could enter the building, while other students and journalists were banned from the meeting,” Tutberidze told Civil Georgia says.
In the appeal to the Tbilisi District Court, made on April 22, the students demand that the Education Ministry would issue an administrative act, regarding development of a common charter for the education institutions. They also demand issuance of an administrative act of the President regarding adoption of the new charter of the State University. The students also demand cancellation of the President’s decree of 2001, which allows the rector to be reelected for the third term.
The students also claim that functioning of the TSU’s Great Council is illegal, because it includes both the scientific and management functions, which contradicts the Law on Education.
Naturally, the university’s administration rejects all these claims. “Everything is legal. The argued issues will be discussed at the court,” said Parmen Margvelashvili, deputy rector of the State University. Metreveli himself simply left unanswered a journalist’s question, whether he would comment the students’ protest.
The rector’s supporters claim that certain forces are trying to provoke confrontation among the students.
“Everything that is happening nowadays in the university is aimed at creating confrontation among the youth. I will not follow this provocation but somebody else would and this will lead us to troubles,” student Dachi Tsaguria, who claims to be Metreveli’s supporter, told Civil Georgia.
Protest of the students towards the University’s Rector and the administration is not caused only by the recent re-election of Roin Metreveli. These students accuse the university’s management for corruption and degraded level of education.
The students annexed their appeal to the court with the materials from the main governmental watchdog agency - Chamber of Control, regarding facts of improper spending and corrupt arrangements in the university.
Gigi Tevzadze, former lecturer at the TSU and director of the Legal Culture Program of the “Open Society – Georgia Foundation” said that the university’s system suffers from the same corruption as the whole country.
“System in the Tbilisi State University is totalitarian and corrupt. The students and the teachers become victims of this system from the day of entry exams to the graduation day. This system affects both the professors and the students and gravely violates their rights,” Gigi Tevzadze told Civil Georgia.
He said that the university functions under the Soviet-type education system, which simply excludes good education of the students and growth of qualified professionals.
A part of the students expressed their protest against the existing situation last year, but without any success as Giorgi Kandelaki, student of the Political Science department says.
“We are already protesting for several years, but this did not bring any results. We are in minority, because majority of students have entered the university, using those corrupt ways that exist here today. Therefore they are unable to support us,” Kandelaki says.
Gigi Tevzadze believes that such system is the result of Metreveli’s unchanged leadership throughout the decade. “He is being elected by the Great Council, members of which are appointed by him and students are denied to participate in the procedure. This creates very unjust environment in the State University,” Tevzadze said.
He also says that changing the existing system in the university would be extremely difficult, since Metreveli enjoys the President’s support. “This system and the rector would vanish only after this government is gone. Therefore, until that day Metreveli has his place firmly secured,” Tevzadze said.