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Revolution Must Reach University: Students Await Resignation of Yerevan State University Head

A group of students of the Yerevan State University(YSU)  gathered outside the university building on 29 May to protest the inefficient government and the atmosphere of misrule at the YSU. The protest was promoted by the   “YSU Total Restart” initiative. The students  demanded resignation of YSU head Aram Simonyan, dissolution of the YSU Board of Trustees and the Student Council, disbanding of the labour union, as well as implementation of financial audit.

Although Davit Sanasaryan, the Head of State Supervision Service, told journalists that the YSU will be among the first to be inspected, “YSU Restart” initiative member Davit Petrosyan told Epress.am: “We, students have been independent and spontaneous, and will continue to remain so. We are happy for the processes that will contribute to the change of the atmosphere in the University, and we are confident that the post assumed by Davit Sanasaryan will be positive for all of Armenia, including YSU”.

According to Petrosyan, they can give Aram Simonyan a second chance only if the head joins their initiative. In case Simonyan resigns, students do not have a specific candidate for that position yet.

Next to the students on strike stood former YSU student Armen Khachatryan with a poster saying “I’m against the unfounded restart”. He told Epress.am that he is against actions of activists who present unsubstantiated demands and instead believes in findings achieved through inspections.

“I now walk with them, so that they see that there is also someone like me. There should be inspections. I can believe in many things, and I can also be mistaken. I am a person”, said Khachatryan.

Employees of various universities from Vanadzor also joined the students’ protest and called for other lecturers to neglect the atmosphere of fear and join the restart.

First, students carried out a protest march through various YSU branch buildings and called for fellow students to join the initiative. Later, they returned to the main building, where they met the YSU rector Aram Simonyan.

Upon hearing the students’ demands, the rector announced: “All these demands are illegitimate. The rector’s resignation can take place in two cases only: when she/he submits a resignation letter and when the Board of Trustees, who has elected her/him, votes for her/him to leave the position. Both cases have a legal ground. I’m on the side of respecting the law and I think that everything should be done in accordance with the law”.

Addressing the issue of disbanding the Board of Trustees, Simonyan mentioned that the Board was not elected by him – it was elected by Government decision. “The government is the recipient, not me. I am not a member of the Board myself, and my opinion has no power in the Board. I do not even have the right to vote for a Board decision. In regards to the audit, it is carried out according to the law, with the decision of the Board”, said YSU rector.

While the discussion continued, “YSU Restart” initiative member Davit Petrosyan announced that they will stay in the university hall until the rector submits a letter of resignation. He called for the students and lecturers to join the protest.

“This is obvious pressure: you are not ready for a constructive discussion”, YSU rector Aram Simonyan announced in response to Davit Petrosyan’s demand and tried to leave the hall. Students blocked the entrance chanting “free, independent student”. After a few minutes, they cleared the way for Simonyan “considering his age”.