A letter to the Macedonian legislators

An open letter in support of the Macedonian student protests.

University students hold banners and shout slogans against government in protest against external state tests for university students in Skopje [EPA]

We, the undersigned scholars and professors from around the world, write to express our deepest concern about the recent actions taken by Ministry of Education and Science to amend the Law on Higher Education, and we wish to express our solidarity with the demonstrators of the Student Plenum and their supporting faculty members and Macedonian citizens.

Any political arrangement that seeks to be called democratic must allow for the autonomy of its institutions of higher education. It is in those institutions that critical reflection on the character of a society – its politics, its economic system, its arrangements of power, and its cultural production – can be performed in a rigorous and unfettered manner by those who are going to be participating in that society. When the institutions of higher education become subject to state control, critical reflection is held hostage to the dictates of those in power. No society can flourish under those conditions. Creativity is stifled, critique is muzzled, independent thought is diminished.

The proposed amendments to the Law on Higher Education, in addition to other recent actions by the Ministry of Education and Science, do not simply undermine the autonomy of universities; they eliminate it. The Ministry has proposed second and fourth year examinations in every course, to be overseen not by those who teach those courses, but by the ministry itself through the National Board of Accreditation and Evaluation of the Higher Education. Thus the state is attempting to arrogate to itself the power of granting or withholding degrees. Macedonian higher education, both its content and its assessment, will, if these amendments are adopted, become subject to the desires of those who control the Macedonian political apparatus at the highest levels.

The stated goal of these amendments is to address issues of quality in the university system. However, as the Student Plenum has emphasised, the quality of university education must be addressed by its stakeholders, not by an outside power that has an interest in blunting the independence of its universities. Moreover, recent actions taken in response to professors joining the protests against the amendments tell a story not of quality but instead of suppression. The response to professorial involvement in the protests has been to propose that the Ministry must approve the composition of thesis committees and be involved in thesis defenses. This can only be read as an attempt to intimidate university faculty, since it serves no educational purpose.

We commend the Student Plenum and its faculty and citizen support and stand with those thousands of protesters who have marched in Skopje to retain the autonomy of Macedonian universities. Furthermore, we demand that the Ministry of Education and Science abandon its attempt to eliminate university autonomy and return control of the universities to those who educate and are educated in them.

Mark Alfano, Assistant Professor of Philosophy, University of Oregon, US
Tariq Ali, Writer, UK
Meryl Altman, Professor of English and Women’s studies at DePauw University, US
Gil Anidjar, Department of Religion, Columbia University, US
Alain Badiou, Emeritus Professor of Philosophy, École Normale Supérieure, Paris, France
Una Bauer, Academy for Dramatic Arts, Zagreb, Croatia
Jeffrey Bell, Professor of Philosophy Southeastern Louisiana University, Hammond US
Emanuela Bianchi, Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature, New York University, US
Jelisaveta Blagojevic, Faculty of Media and Communications, Belgrade, Serbia
Ray Brassier, Associate Professor of Philosophy, American University of Beirut, Lebanon
G Anthony Bruno, Alexander von Humboldt Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Department of Philosophy, University of Bonn, Germany
Judith Butler, Department of Comparative Literature, University of California, Berkeley, US
Ankica Cakardic, Assistant Professor, Faculty for Humanities and Social Sciences, Zagreb, Croatia
Samir Chopra, Professor of Philosophy, Graduate Center and Brooklyn College of the City University of New York, US
Sharyn Clough, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR, US
Simon Critchley, Hans Jonas Professor, The New School for Social Research, US
Andrew Culp, Visiting Assistant Professor of Rhetoric, Whitman College, Walla Walla, WA, US
Marina Cvetkovska, Post-Doctoral Research Fellow in Molecular Biology, University of Western Ontario, Canada
Vedrana Cvetkovska, Post-Doctoral Research Fellow in Neuroscience, University of British Columbia, Canada
Anna Cychnerska, University of Torunj, Poland
Jodi Dean, Professor of Political Science, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Geneva, NY, US
Tom Digby Professor of Philosophy, Springfield College, Springfield, Massachusetts, US
Andrew Dilts Assistant Professor of Political Science, Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, CA, US
Matt Drabek, Content Specialist, ACT Inc., Iowa City, IA, US
Alex Dubilet, Department of Rhetoric and Program for Religious Studies, University of California, Berkeley, US
Hajdi Elzeser, Lecturer at the Hochschule für Musik, Detmold, Germany
Andrea Feeser, Professor, Modern and Contemporary Art History, Theory, and Criticism, Clemson University, US
Matthias Fritsch, Professor of Philosophy, Concordia University, Montreal, Canada
Johan Galtung, University of Oslo, Norway
Armando Gnisci, European Academy, London, UK
Christopher Grau, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Clemson University, US
James Griffith, PhD, Department of Philosophy, DePaul University, Chicago, IL, US
Andrej Grubacic, Anthropology and Social Change Department, California Institute of Integral Studies, US
Peter Hallward, Professor of Modern European Philosophy, Kingston University, UK
Srecko Horvat, Independent Scholar, Croatia
Gordon Hull, Associate Professor of Philosophy and Public Policy, University of North Carolina, Charlotte, US
Miroslav Izdimirski, Institute of Balkan Studies with Center of Thracology, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences
Igor Janev, Institute of Political Studies, Belgrade, Serbia
Leigh M Johnson, Department of Religion and Philosophy, Christian Brothers University, US
Jonathan Kaplan, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR, US
Edward Kazarian, Department of Philosophy and Religion Studies, Rowan University, US
Gal Kirn, Humboldt Research Fellow, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Germany
Mark Lance, Professor of Philosophy and Justice and Peace, Georgetown University, US
Jo Littler, Senior Lecturer in Culture and Cultural Industries, City University London, UK
Cathrine Malabou, Professor Of Modern European Philosophy, Kingston University, UK
Bill Martin, Professor of Philosophy DePaul University, Chicago, US
Todd May, 1941 Memorial Professor of the Humanities, Clemson University, US
Ladelle McWhorter, James Thomas Professor in Philosophy, University of Richmond, Virginia US
Hugh Miller, Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Loyola University Chicago, US
Joshua Miller, Professional Lecturer, Philosophy, George Washington University, US
Lisa Miracchi, Bersoff Assistant Professor/Faculty Fellow, Department of Philosophy, New York University, US
Michael O’Rourke, Dublin, Ireland
David Palumbo-Liu Louise Hewlett Nixon Professor Stanford University Palo Alto, Califorinia, US
Antonio Petrov, Assistant Professor of Architecture and Urbanism, University of Texas at San Antonio, US
Robert Pichler, Institute of Slavic Studies, Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany
Liedeka Plate, Radbound University, Nijmegen, The Netherlands
Nina Power, Senior Lecturer, Department of Humanities, University of Roehampton, UK
John Protevi, Phyllis M. Taylor Professor of French Studies and Professor of Philosophy, Louisiana State University, US
Jacques Rancière, Emeritus Professor of Philosophy, Université de Paris VIII (St. Denis), France
C D C Reeve, Delta Kappa Epsilon Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, US
Gabriel Rockhill, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Villanova University, US
Steven Salaita, Independent Scholar, US
Irena Sawicka, PAN,Warsaw, Poland
Svetlana Slapšak, Institutum Studiorum Humanitatis, Ljubljana, Slovenia
Shane Smalley, Adjunct Professor of Philosophy, Theology, Anthropology and Linguistics. Calvary Theological Seminary, Grand View, MO, US
Anthony Paul Smith, Assistant Professor of Religion, La Salle University, US
Henry Somers-Hall, Senior Lecturer in Philosophy, Royal Holloway, University of London, UK
James K Stanescu, Professional Lecturer, George Washington University, US
Alexander I Stingl, Research Faculty, STS Center, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA US; and Visiting Researcher, Research Collaborator, Contract Lecturer, and Research Consultant, Social Science, Univ. of Kassel, CLWF VU Brussel, College of Leupana Univ Lueneburg, Inst for General Medicine UniClinic Erlangen
Barry Stocker, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Istanbul Technical University, Turkey
Namita Subioto, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia
Julia Sushytska, PhD, Philosophy, Independent Scholar, US
Misko Suvakovic, Professor at Faculty of Drama and Arts, Beograd, Serbia
Silvo Torkar, SAZU, Ljubljana, Slovenia
Kiril Trpkov, University of Calgary, Canada
Gianni Vattimo, Emeritus Professor of Philosophy, Università degli Studi di Torino, Italy
Maurice Wade, Professor of Philosophy, Trinity College, Hartford, CT, US
Kimberly Wilson, Department of Teaching and Learning, Temple University, US
Santiago Zabala, ICREA Research Professor, Pompeu Fabra University, Spain
Slavoj Zizek, Birkbeck Institute for Humanities, UK