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Students petition against lectures of Babiš’s cabinet at VŠE

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Prague, March 27 (CTK) – Students have written a petition against lectures by members of the ANO movement’s one-party cabinet at the University of Economics (VSE), arguing they fear a single stream of opinion would be presented to them, which is unacceptable before local and Senate elections, its authors said.

The petition has been signed by over 300 people since Saturday.

ANO leader and Prime Minister Andrej Babis said he feels sorry about the students’ approach, since it is not his cabinet’s goal to infringe upon the independence of the student environment, the Government Office wrote in a press release later on Tuesday.

The scheduled series of lectures named “Economic policy through the eyes of its makers” was announced earlier by the daily Hospodarske noviny (HN).

The first lecture of the cabinet members’s series is planned for April 4 and the last one will be held on May 10 by Babis (ANO). The course is one of the results of the memorandum of cooperation between the Government Office and the VSE’s Faculty of Economics in Prague.

According to the petition’s authors, the VSE should be nonpartisan and neutral in opinion. They say that by the lecturers representing the cabinet which makes personnel changes without sufficient explanations and whose PM is criminally prosecuted and linked to a number of negative cases, the good name of the university is being undermined.

“I feel sorry to see some students disliking the project. The courses are optional, which means voluntary, and there has been quite strong interest in them already now. It was not my personal initiative and I would not mind it if the university finally changed its mind based on whatever reason,” the press release quoted Babis as saying.

He said he would gladly meet the petition signatories.

The Government Office and the university have signed a memorandum outlining clear rules of the lectures, Babis continued.

“Based on it, the courses will be apolitical and the faculty will be informed about the content of the lectures beforehand. It is definitely not out goal to violate the independence of the university environment,” Babis added.

The Faculty of Economics is to elect its new dean in April, HN wrote, as its current Dean Miroslav Sevcik ends his term. The new dean will head the faculty until 2022 and will be elected by the faculty’s Academic Senate.

Members of municipal assemblies and one third of the Senate, the upper house of parliament, will be chosen in the elections this autumn.

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