Who governs Kyoto University?
“the private property of president Minato, at least for now”.
To reconstruct the autonomy and academic freedom at Kyoto University, we directly consult with the current president, Nagahiro Minato, in the office of the president, overcoming the guards and staff protecting him from campus members’ opinions. The solidarity of students and other liniments themself are the origin of the vitality of the University and the whole academic as we show now. However, their right and decision-making power had been eroded by the president and administrative committee. We gain decision-making rights of the university back from the dictatorial administrative committee to the collective solidarity of all liniments, who are the real holders of the university. The demonstration of autonomy shows the best way to remove repression and build our community and society by ourselves. Let’s stand up for the movement to gain back the decision-making power of universities to the bottom-up system of students, faculty, and others!
The Japanese government has led the top-down policy of restructuring and reforming Universities, but it results in severe damage to the fundamental spirit of academic freedom and autonomy, which is traditionally managed and sustained by the collaboration between students, staff, and faculties. Faculty councils lost discretion and their official authorization was restricted to “express their opinion when requested”. The administration turned to reject any direct dialog with students. The official student opinion box did not bring decent answers, exception is a shabby excuse, such as “We will consider your opinion. Please understand the policy the administration made”.
In reality, the liniments of Kyoto University, for example, students and faculties, are gradually excluded from the decision-making process of the whole university. Hence, the administrative committee, composed of president Minato and around 10 executive directors and vice presidents, has monopolized the authority of the decision. They have direct order to every part of Kyoto University, from buildings, sites, and even small fixtures there.
What happened under the role of the dictate committee? – It is the deprivation of rights.
The opportunities for expression and exchange are being curtailed daily through a series of restrictions on billboards, leafleting, rallies, school festivals, etc. Utilizing the COVID-19 pandemic as a pretext, the committee declared that the whole restriction on extracurricular activities has eroded the prosperous student cultures at Kyoto University based on their activities among students in versatile universities in Kyoto city.
The suppression is not limited to extracurricular activities but expanded toward the life and health care of the members of Kyoto University. Traditionally, the medical clinic office on campus had insured the health care of students, postdocs, and staff for around 100 years in an affordable way. In 2021, however, the administration suddenly abolished the clinic without getting any agreement from university members. One of the traditional student-governed dormitories, Yoshida Dormitory, is threatened by a SLAPP lawsuit and has obstructed usual activity and student enrollments. The administration has also been deprived of the debatable time and place.
Staff and faculties have been repositioned to non-regular employment and turned to have difficulty managing the university in the long-term viewpoint. Many students also feel the suppressed atmosphere. The stricter practice of the CAP system and the increase in the number of assignments reduced the freedom each student has in their curriculum design.
The freedom of study is now diminishing and universities have been reinforced with research studies in a way that would only seek increased profit for the country and private businesses. The unreasonable cut of basic funds for university management (Management Expenses Grants) from the government has driven researchers into a meaningless competition to obtain funds from the government and businesses, depriving them of autonomy and vitality. The suppression and non-rest curriculum against students are depriving the opportunity to cultivate critiques and mindsets of students. Universities are turning themselves into “employment prep schools” that ship out obedient human resources that are convenient for the government and private businesses.
Furthermore, In the name of “economic security,” the secrecy of advanced technology research, its diversion to military use, and the elimination of foreign students and researchers are being promoted. The restriction and suppression are now reaching international freedom of academic exchange and encouragement, which is one of the fundamental agreements after the end of the Cold War. President Minato and the administrative committee are the people who accelerate the restriction policy.
Isn’t the university a place for freedom and vigorous discussion without distinction and elimination to aim at the happiness of human society as a whole? Haven’t we expanded human potential with all university members and associates beyond individual limits?
What we want is a university full of freedom and possibilities, run by all students, researchers, staff, and faculties in cooperation with each other. Universities privatized by the administration would only create division and domination, competition, and inequality.
Contrary to the ideal of academics, the real Kyoto University is taking on prison-likeness
Various kinds of students have resisted the deprivation of rights and metamorphoses of Kyoto University and its academic atmosphere. Some argued. Some resisted quietly, some fiercely. The administrative committee, however, has purged them. Disciplinary actions against students (discharge, suspension, reprimand) have totaled 23 students since 2016, and some students have even been suspended from the campus and any resources for more than four years and continue to pay tuition fees for nothing. Recently, an administrative committee induced police officers to suppress students with an iron fist to shut down social events, postings, and protests without any dialog and negotiation. They introduced the decades of police officers against students and even composed reasons to somehow establish a criminal case such as “burglary” or “criminal damage”.
Although the upwind has blown down from the committee, we have kept hope for a corporation and autonomy toward an open university and academic freedom. We continue to sustain a negotiation channel, submit change requests, and realize this again and again in the real world. We also retain any exchange opportunities on campus among students and faculties by ourselves. We have kept inexpensive self-governed dormitories to let every student pursue their life and academic activity without any repression. We have reconstructed a cooperation system among the whole university and protested against the repression downhill force by solidifying among students. Now we succeeded in suspending any new prosecution and defeating repression at events on campus against private company repression guards and some staff from the administrations.
We hereby declare. We decline any deprivation of rights. We retain the autonomy for academic freedom which has been eroded. We regain anything which is quietly taken away. To accomplish this, we must reverse the position and prosecute the president by our power itself. He shut himself in his room, ignored any critics, and let the administrative committee force authority on the university.
Therefore, we have to consult with him directly in the office of the president, overwhelming the barrier composed of the guards and staff preventing him from campus opinions.
Kyoto University is not only for you but for everyone. Return anything you took from us.
We want to appeal to everyone concerned about the university, academic, and/or social suppression. Our rights did not diminish naturally but were ruined deliberately. There are people who ruined our rights.
Gather in front of the president’s office.
Go beyond the door.
Get on the direct prosecution and dialog with president Minato.
Let’s stand up for the movement to take back the decision-making power of universities to the bottom-up system of students, faculty, and others!