December 6, 2023

Last December, the Madrid regional president Isabel Díaz Ayuso blurted out: “How can it be that a former vice president of the Government has now bid to be a simple associate professor at the UCM (Complutense University of Madrid)? Because what Pablo Iglesias is looking for is to be the next rector of the most important public university in Spain. That is to say: kill the public university”. In reality, Iglesias could not stand in the elections held last week because he was not a professor, nor will he be able to in six years. Then permanent professors will be able to apply (a position that they have not achieved), but they would have to demonstrate -as required by the new Organic Law of the University System (LOSU)- “a high research capacity, an accredited teaching career, as well as sufficient management experience university in a one-person position (vice-rector, manager or dean)” that does not accumulate in six years. However, Ayuso’s words have been disseminated as evidence in the campaign.

After the elections, which the rector Joaquín Goyache won with the support of the PP, the regional vice president Enrique Ossorio was glad that the university had not fallen “into the hands of the radical left” – which for the popular is synonymous with Podemos -, embodied in the figure of Esther del Campo, the dean of the Faculty of Political Science and Sociology who was applying for the position. But is Políticas really the nest of left-wing totalitarianism that some media paint?

The centrist Rafael Calduch, professor of International Relations and former UPyD deputy, maintains that his faculty is not a bastion of Podemos, that it was, but it ceased to be “six or seven years ago, when many professors went to institutional positions and lost mobilization capacity. Calduch, director of his department between 2008 and 2012, points out that the rise of the party is not understood without the support of dean Francisco Aldecoa (2002-2010). Until he left office, he assures that he did not manage to invite Rosa Díez, the president of the party, who suffered an escrache in 2010 in which Iglesias and co-founder Íñigo Errejón participated. Since then, he affirms, the acts have been allowed, but also the protests.

“Ole Ole ole. I will go out in a medium without being insulted ”. The one who hums is Kata, an anarchist, a fourth-year student of Social Work and one of the five “hang up” -according to his own words- who manage the Okupada Classroom, which, he proudly says, the deanery has not entered for 27 years. At first, he is wary of talking to EL PAÍS ―the extreme right-wing reporter Vito Quiles has entered the classroom twice, says Kata―, but he agrees when Rodrigo, a double degree student in Law and Political Science, arrives. There is no dirt, “we clean every day”, explains the anti-system student. A roller on the table reveals that they have just given a coat of white paint to the little space that remains free on the walls, full of graffiti and drawings. A sign makes it clear that you can not smoke or drink. The years in which he was hardly seen due to the smoke from the joints in a lower area are long gone. Ayuso recalled it in a tweet in 2011, before the emergence of Podemos: “The Políticas ‘carpet’ seemed more serious to me, where the Bolsheviks went to smoke joints and drink calimocho. #ucm”.

“Seeing this faculty as the faculty of Podemos is very childish, it is not wanting to see the pluralism that exists. In my class there are kids from Libertad sin Ira and I get along very well”, explains Rodrigo, progressive and committed to social causes. The right-wing association was founded last year at the faculty and from the dean’s office they explain that they have to reorganize the space of the student associations to make room for it. Of its president – the previous one has become president of Nuevas Generaciones -, the Venezuelan Diego Yáñez, it is said on his website that in college “he has had to fight against ideological totalitarianism just as he did in Venezuela”. . By message, Yáñez acknowledges to EL PAÍS that in Politics “there is ideological disparity, but Podemos has a strong presence”; but then he does not agree to speak with this newspaper to recount his experience.

Juan Carlos Monedero, professor at the faculty and former Number Three of Podemos, it is clear to him: “The university does not have to be partisan (subject to a party) but politicized, and more Policies. The problem is that it becomes partisan, because that responds to more exclusive logics”. And he puffs out his chest: “It is a plural, live faculty, made up of people who want to change the world, who were very present at 15-M (in 2011). Any faculty of Politics in the world would like to have generated a process like that of Podemos. If it had happened at Yale or Harvard, it would be studied all over the world.” He gives the example of the phenomenon Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who is already being studied in French universities.

A new classroom with visual media in the Faculty of Political Sciences of the UCM.
A new classroom with visual media in the Faculty of Political Sciences of the UCM.Jaime Villanueva

Ariel Jerez, like Carolina Bescansa, continues to teach at the university, but left the party she helped found. He maintains that there is an “illiberal and uncivilized right” that persecutes Humanities faculties like his in the world: “We are the only scientific faculties that maintain other types of stories, of reflections on alternatives in society… And they have a single thought gaze.” And he believes that there is a special “obsession” on the right for the Complutense: “It is the first public company in Madrid and, by tradition and history, it is still the largest face-to-face university in Spain and the rector has a space in the public sphere, at least in Madrid”.

Ricardo Alonso, the dean of Law, does not agree with Monedero that the university is becoming politicized. “Here (in the Faculty of Law) people learn to live together. fifty (50%) to learn a program and a profession, and fifty to become a democratic person. And how is she made? I do not agree that through debate, but by living together. In the cafeteria there are all the ideologies, the ethnic groups… It goes from one with dreadlocks to realizing that he doesn’t have to vomit to see another with hair gel, and vice versa”. Alonso believes that in Spain “there is no culture of debate”, but maintains that there are other priorities in the faculty: “For now, as long as there are no beatings, no bottles of 25,000 people almost in an ethylic coma… It’s just that there are to live the university! High-flying debates? What are you talking about?”. Alonso is proud of not having had major altercations during seven years as dean ―he did not allow a Vox Rocío Monasterio political act to be held for which permission was not requested this 8-M―, but in Politics they do occur: the dissident Leopoldo López, Pablo Iglesias or Javier Ortega-Smith (in an unauthorized car) have been victims of escrache from the radical left in recent years.

“In the Squatted Classroom everyone gathers, it is without a lock. People study, food is heated… This afternoon we have a talk by the Villalba Housing Assembly and everyone can enter, ”continues Kata, who compares his activity with that of Libertad sin Ira. “The other day they gave a talk about Israel. Two Mossad policemen and eight security guards came and none of us came close to the talk”, recalls the anarchist. “In another that they did on the black legend of Hispanicity, the whitewashing of Spanish colonialism seemed very strong to me and I debated with the one who gave the talk very calmly. But the PP gives votes to remove Somosaguas (the campus), with the graffiti”, continues Kata, who works with children in an extracurricular sports school. The dean’s office wants to agree with the students on a plan to artistically decorate the basement, which offers a very degraded image of the faculty with its graffiti.

A review of the results of the elections for rector in recent years in Policies make it clear that it is not a fortress of Podemos; a group of teachers in a huddle agrees that the majority ideology is probably close to the classic PSOE. In 2015, José Carrillo tried to revalidate the position of rector in the midst of a tense clash with the regional president, Ignacio González, who threatened not to let him call the elections if he did not deliver the open file to Professor Monedero. In this scenario, Carrillo should have swept the field if the faculty had been in the hands of the party, but it was not. In the first round, among the teachers, Carlos Andradas, close to the PSOE, won with 48.8% of the votes; followed by the ex number two Minister José Ignacio Wert (PP), Federico Morán, with 23.8%, and Carrillo with 19.3%. Calduch, deputy months after UPyD, collected 7.9% of the votes. “We did not campaign in Policies, we were very surprised by the great result,” recalls a person who participated in Morán’s team.

Stairs of the building of the Faculty of Politics of the UCM, last Wednesday.
Stairs of the building of the Faculty of Politics of the UCM, last Wednesday.Jaime Villanueva

In 2019 Carrillo did not fare well either. He agreed with Morán to promote Goyache, but Andradas won by a handful of votes among the professors and his candidate among the students. Last Wednesday the faculty turned to Dean Del Campo’s victory, but Goyache ―again supported by Carrillo― revalidated the position. The day before, the manager had to send a circular at dawn to deny that the building was not going to open due to a breakdown; It turned out to be a hoax launched by an adviser to the Madrid City Council, a member of Nuevas Generaciones. The same ones that lead Libertad sin Ira and that cordoned off Ayuso when she was decorated among insults, an illustrious student of Information Sciences.

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