Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Masked protesters take over recently reopened UNAM school

Just days after being reopened, the José Vasconcelos Preparatory School number 5 was retaken by masked attackers on Thursday.

Part of the system of preparatory schools for the National Autonomous University (UNAM), the school had been closed due to a student strike to demand action against sexual harassment and assault on school grounds.

The masked protesters came face to face with parents, teachers, students and police as they made their attempt to retake the school. They threw paint and eggs at a squad of at least 50 police officers sent to protect the school at the request of UNAM authorities.

UNAM rector Enrique Graue ordered an evacuation of the facilities in light of the violent incidents.

“In the face of the extreme violence carried out by a small group of masked individuals in order to gain entrance and forcibly close school number 5 of the National Preparatory School, UNAM rector Enrique Graue ordered the evacuation of students, teachers and administrators to ensure their personal safety,” the university said in a press release.

Graue said Friday morning that he believed there would be a quick solution to the problem. He denounced the violence while still expressing support for the movement.

“It’s a legitimate movement, that of the women. We are with them, but we want to condemn this most recent act,” he said.

When asked about the strike in 12 schools in the university system, he said that “we have answered all of their demands. … We are working and we hope for a quick resolution.”

Instances of sexual assault continue on the system’s campuses despite the numerous and often violent actions taken to demand something be done about the problem.

On February 21 a woman was sexually assaulted by two masked men in a bathroom at the College of Sciences and Humanities in the Azcapotzalco borough of Mexico City.

But UNAM is not the only university receiving these types of complaints from students. Administration at the Autonomous University of México State (UAEM) has received official complaints of sexual assault and harassment on the part of teachers, administrators and other students.

The complainants initiated strikes in the UAEM schools of Behavioral Sciences, Art, Humanities and Political Science in hopes of making the problem more visible.

Elsewhere in the public education system, the Ministry of Education announced the dismissal of a teacher at the Heriberto Enríquez Primary School in Mexico City who had been reported to have sexually abused a female student two years ago.

Sources: Milenio (sp), El Universal (sp)

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