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Writers lend support to students

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Unrest at the university
Jan Józef Lipski Social activist
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At the same time, these young students, or those who were more active, had a kind of confrontational attitude, as if they were saying, we'll make our voices heard now, we'll show them, we'll hold a demonstration, and so on. These attitudes coincided with ones that had been forming for some time. Then it became apparent that there were going to be disciplinary hearings. There was even the possibility of expulsions from the university, and then suddenly there was the news that two students from Warsaw University were to be expelled but the decision to expel them was illegal in light of the existing laws. Expulsion was decided by the Minister for Higher Education – Henryk Jabłoński – in cases where it is not up to him to expel students from individual universities. The realisation that on top of events which the students already found objectionable, something else was happening that was breaking the law, added insult to injury. The decision to expel Adam Michnik and Henryk Szlajfer put the students in a situation from which there was no way out. As long there was talk of disciplinary hearings, everyone was just waiting to see what would come of it all and we could concentrate on an ordinary defence for them and find some eminent professors to speak up for them in their defence at the disciplinary hearing, which would not have been hard. There is the question, what would have come of this, perhaps it would have ended with a reprimand, maybe a temporary suspension would have prevented such a huge uproar. However, there was an expulsion. Expulsion is a fairly serious step which can destroy a person's life. And what are their friends supposed to do? I find it hard to imagine young people who are so... who have such deep political concepts about what can and can't be done that as a result they abandon their friends with whom they'd been doing many things, and do not come to their defence. This would have been disgusting and would have shown these young people in the worst possible light.

Jednocześnie w tym czasie wśród tej młodzieży studenckiej – wśród jej przynajmniej tej części bardziej aktywnej – było coś w rodzaju takich nastrojów konfrontacyjnych, że my teraz się odezwiemy, my pokażemy, my zademonstrujemy, tak dalej. I to trafiło na przygotowywany już od pewnego czasu...te takie nastroje, które jakoś powstawały już dawniej. No i w pewnym momencie okazuje się, że będą jakieś dyscyplinarki. Będą być może relegacje z uniwersytetu. I nagle wiadomość, że dwóch studentów Uniwersytetu Warszawskiego...jest postanowienie o relegacji w trybie nota bene łamiącym ówczesne przepisy prawne. Relegacje postanawia minister Szkolnictwa Wyższego Henryk Jabłoński w sytuacji kiedy to nie do niego należy relegowanie studentów z poszczególnych uczelni. Ta świadomość jeszcze dodatkowo, że dzieje się coś czego sobie ta młodzież nie życzy, gdy jest to robione jeszcze z naruszeniem obowiązujących przepisów, dodatkowo wzburza. Postanowienie o relegacji Adama Michnika i Henryka Szlajfera jest...postawiło tę młodzież w sytuacji trochę bez wyjścia. Bo dopóki była mowa o dyscyplinarkach, tak długo można było czekać, co z tego wyniknie, tak długo można było skoncentrować się na ich normalnej obronie, znaleźć jakichś...co bez trudu by się stało, jakichś profesorów o wielkich nazwiskach, którzy by wystąpili na dyscyplinarkę jako ich obrońcy. Pytanie, co by z tego wynikło? Może w tej sytuacji by skończyło się na naganach jakichś czy nawet być może czasowe zawieszenie by nie spowodowało takiej wielkiej awantury. Niemniej tutaj jest relegacja. Relegacja jest to krokiem jednak dosyć poważnym, która, no...może człowiekowi złamać życie. I jednocześnie, co mają robić ich koledzy. No trudno mi sobie wyobrazić młodych ludzi, którzy są tak jakoś...mają jakieś takie głęboko polityczne koncepcje, że tego można zrobić, to nie można zrobić i w rezultacie tego zostawia się kolegów z którymi razem się coś robiło na lodzie i nie występuje się w ich obronie. No, byłoby to po prostu obrzydliwe i by świadczyło jak najgorzej o tej młodzieży.

Jan Józef Lipski (1926-1991) was one of Poland's best known political activists. He was also a writer and a literary critic. As a soldier in the Home Army (Armia Krajowa), he fought in the Warsaw Uprising. In 1976, following worker protests, he co-founded the Workers' Defence Committee (KOR). His active opposition to Poland's communist authorities led to his arrest and imprisonment on several occasions. In 1987, he re-established and headed the Polish Socialist Party. Two years later, he was elected to the Polish Senate. He died in 1991 while still in office. For his significant work, Lipski was honoured with the Cross of the Valorous (Krzyż Walecznych), posthumously with the Grand Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta (1991) and with the highest Polish decoration, the Order of the White Eagle (2006).

Listeners: Marcel Łoziński Jacek Petrycki

Film director Marcel Łoziński was born in Paris in 1940. He graduated from the Film Directing Department of the National School of Film, Television and Theatre in Łódź in 1971. In 1994, he was nominated for an American Academy Award and a European Film Academy Award for the documentary, 89 mm from Europe. Since 1995, he has been a member of the American Academy of Motion Picture Art and Science awarding Oscars. He lectured at the FEMIS film school and the School of Polish Culture of Warsaw University. He ran documentary film workshops in Marseilles. Marcel Łoziński currently lectures at Andrzej Wajda’s Master School for Film Directors. He also runs the Dragon Forum, a European documentary film workshop.

Cinematographer Jacek Petrycki was born in Poznań, Poland in 1948. He has worked extensively in Poland and throughout the world. His credits include, for Agniezka Holland, Provincial Actors (1979), Europe, Europe (1990), Shot in the Heart (2001) and Julie Walking Home (2002), for Krysztof Kieslowski numerous short films including Camera Buff (1980) and No End (1985). Other credits include Journey to the Sun (1998), directed by Jesim Ustaoglu, which won the Golden Camera 300 award at the International Film Camera Festival, Shooters (2000) and The Valley (1999), both directed by Dan Reed, Unforgiving (1993) and Betrayed (1995) by Clive Gordon both of which won the BAFTA for best factual photography. Jacek Petrycki is also a teacher and a filmmaker.

Tags: Warsaw University, Minister of Higher Education, Henryk Jabłoński, Adam Michnik, Henryk Szlajfer

Duration: 2 minutes, 50 seconds

Date story recorded: October 1989

Date story went live: 11 March 2011