Protest Held Against Zagreb Mayor Honorary Doctorate

By 27 March 2019

ZAGREB, March 27, 2019 - Hundreds of members of the academic community rallied outside the Zagreb University building on Tuesday evening for a protest against a proposal by the Zagreb Academy of Music to award Mayor Milan Bandić an honorary doctorate of Zagreb University.

Speakers at the rally said that Zagreb University was going through one of the worst episodes in its history, adding that they were ashamed and that a turnaround would have to happen.

Stjepan Perko, a candidate for a doctor's degree at Zagreb's Faculty of Political Science, who organised the rally, said that it was shameful to honour Bandić, who had been indicted in a number of cases, in any way, let alone with an honorary doctorate.

The protesters carried banners with messages seeking Zagreb University head Damir Boras's resignation and ridiculing the university's earlier decision to grant an honorary doctorate to Dragan Čović, leader of the Bosnian Croat HDZ BiH party, and shouted "Stop violence against university".

A professor at the Faculty of Science, Damir Bakić, expressed solidarity with the members of the Academy of Music who opposed the academy's proposal to award Bandić an honorary doctorate.

More than 750 professors, students, Zagreb University alumni and other members of the academic community a few days ago sent a letter to the Academic Senate, urging it not to award Bandić an honorary doctorate.

Noting that the commission in charge of awarding honorary doctorates would probably cite in its decision regarding Bandić projects such as the new building of the Academy of Music, they said that it was not Bandić who had financially helped Zagreb University but rather residents of Zagreb, by paying local taxes.

The disgruntled members of the academic community also noted in their letter that Bandić was connected with numerous scandals and legal proceedings launched against him over suspected wrongdoing.

Science and Education Minister Blaženka Divjak said earlier in the day that the Academic Senate had to take into account the opinion of the part of the academic community that opposed the plan to award the mayor an honorary doctorate and that its responsibility in that regard was considerable.

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