I walked out of class onto a movie set. I stepped right into a massive sea of college students marching down the university street, Via Zamboni. Somehow I felt injected into a radical hippie rebellion like in Across the Universe, but this was better—this was reality right now.As flares went off into the street, I saw a cameraman try and escape the heavy smokescreen to get a good angle on the march.The photo he took would be in the newspaper the next day.
In Italy there is a law trying to be passed that has everyone talking. If it does there will be a 50,000 euro cut from education, the University will be privatized, the number of teachers in elementary schools will be cut from 4 to 1, and foreign students will be separated into different classes. The University of Bologna is the oldest university in the world, and has always been open to the public; even today people are welcome to walk into a lecture from the street and take a seat with everyone else. Right now in lower level schools, kids have different teachers for each subject, who are specialized in the subject they teach. With the new law this will diminish to one general teacher who will be there for part of the day and then to aids who look after the children later on in the day. With many immigrating to Italy, there is a large population of young students who don’t speak Italian. The law proposes to put these children into separate classes, in hopes that it will make it easier for them to learn. It also wants implement a language test for all students who wish to take courses in Italian schools.
So basically everyone is going berserk, and I never thought I would see so many protests, rallies, and classroom takeovers in my life. It’s wonderful to witness people taking action and letting their voices be heard. Yes we have protests in the US, but nothing like this that I’ve actually seen. Days prior the whole Philosophy Department was taken over by students in a giant rally against the privatization of the University. Teachers decided to hold class in piazzas, and many of my lectures started out with a lengthy discussion of the latest events involving the manifestation.
Apparently this type of thing is normal in Bologna, which is said to be one of the more Leftist cities in Italy. Each month there is at least one bus sciopero (strike) to give the people a reality check as to how important public services are. Walking down the street and seeing the large posters scouring the campus walls makes me smile, because it feels like things are happening, and I get to see them happen in my new home.