18th April 16:21
Italy's Vampire Universities
Note: This letter was published by JUST Response on July 29 2005.
Italy's Vampire Universities
A letter from David Aliaga, Calgary
I read David Petrie's comments in Cut cash to Italy's universities
(http://www.justresponse.net/Petrie_2.html)about the RAI 3 journalist's
investigation into academic research in Italy. I want to make some
comments (even if I mostly agree with David's) about Italian
universities, since I myself have been fighting a protracted battle for
my own human and academic rights against the Mafia system that corrodes
and pervades Italian universities.
I believe that if you want to understand why Italian universities are in
such a rut, there are just a few words which can clearly describe it:
power, corruption and nepotism. Yes, power, corruption and nepotism best
describe the condition of the Italian university system. The inability
or the adamant refusal of university leaders and professors to
relinquish power and try to minimize corruption and outright nepotism
has been for many years the bane of development for Italian universities.
I call many of those hijacked universities or departments vampire
universities or vampire departments. Yes, vampire
universities/departments because they **** the vitality out of the life
of young and idealistic researchers and students, as well as taxpayers'
money. The vampire university is simply a university or department which
has been hijacked by a phalanx of bandits and crooks who would use the
instruments and bureaucracy of the university machinery to enrich and
maintain themselves and their cronies in their positions and exclude
Some ****ysts believe that throwing more money into research and hiring
more young researchers will help to bring about some change. I believe
that if the pot is already broken and leaking not much will be fixed
until the real problem which is the leak in the pot is properly fixed.
What I have found most amazing and intriguing through my years of
struggle for justice is how young Italian student leaders are absolutely
incapable or unwilling of really mounting a serious challenge to the
power structures of corruption and nepotism that pervade their
universities. Unfortunately, until that happen not much would ever
change with the Italian university system.
When I see the mess in Italian universities, I find it humiliating as it
deprecates my pride and dignity as an academic and researcher of Italian
Regarding my own case, readers should consult: Doctoral torture
http://www.justresponse.net/doctoral_torture.html (a comprehensive
interview conducted by JUST Response editor Domenico Pacitti), Appeal
for David Aliaga http://www.justresponse.net/Aliaga_appeal.html(the
Pacitti letter to the Human Rights Watch Academic Freedom Committee) and
A Researchers' Charter: A Paradigm Leap?
(a recent article in Science by Anne Forde).