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Students Want Courses in Democracy, Bad Teachers Ousted

January 16, 1990

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) _ The revolution reached chilly university classrooms Tuesday with students demanding the firing of professors regarded more for their knowledge of Communism than of physics or chemistry.

Notices pasted on doorways at Bucharest’s Polytechnic University called for required military courses for women to be dropped and for student votes on the competency of teachers. Students also demanded an end to required courses on Marxism.

In dormitories, students sought to get rid of residents suspected of having informed for the deposed government.

The fervent debates on student rights were reminiscent of the United States in the 1960s, when college students demonstrated for more control over what they were taught and by whom.

But the Romanian students’ meetings and petitions also mirrored the string of public denunciations that have arisen since dictator Nicolae Ceaucescu was overthrown Dec. 22.

Newspapers have denounced everyone in turn, from Ceausescu to the interim leaders and in one case even the head of a small farm cooperative accused of buying a university diploma with 200 pigs.

In the Polytechnic’s physics department, students were signing petitions Tuesday to demand the ouster of a professor named Ilie Cucurezeanu.

″In his lectures he started by explaining Communist ideology, but he couldn’t explain physics,″ said Daniel Florescu, a second-year student from Bucharest.

Roxana Mitroi, 20, from Romanian Moldavia, said Cucurezeanu often asked students who gave incorrect answers, ″What kind of Communist are you?″

Florescu, 22, said the second-year physics students had met with the department dean, who promised to cooperate with them.

Dean Juliet Floria said she told students she would submit their request for Cucurezeanu dissmisal to the faculty, along with a suggestion that his upcoming exam for second-year students be reviewed by a professorial committee.

″It will be up to the faculty to decide,″ she said, but added the students’ demands have to be addressed.

Cucurezeanu took another view. ″We don’t have to bend our ears to students’ talk,″ he said.

Wrapped in a coat and scarf in his sparsely heated office, Cucurezeanu denied he infused his courses with talk of Communism and offered to produce documents from the Ministry of Education, issued under the ousted regime, testifying to his credentials.

He maintained only second-year students wanted him fired because they’d become caught up in last month’s revolution and had not studied enough for his exam.

″Until now, I never had problems with students,″ he said. However, hundreds of signatures on the petitions were from third-and fourth-year students not facing Cucurezeanu’s exam.

Students said that in other departments of Polytechnic, a sprawling campus with nearly 30,000 students, efforts also were under way to dismiss professors viewed as incompetent or Communist Party apparatchiks.

At Bucharest University, students were making similar moves. There are factions in the language department for and against the firing of Michaela Ceausescu, a niece of the late dictator, as a professor of Russian. The issue has been submitted to the central administration for a decision.

At Polytechnic, student Sorin Popao said dormitories were organizing to get rid of suspected informers, often non-students who lived in the dorms as administrators or staff.

″In my dorm, we confronted two of them in the hall last night,″ said Popao, 22, of the town of Baia Mare.

″It started with a couple of us and one of them said, ’No not me, you people are the informers,‴ Popao said.

″But,″ he said, ″when a crowd gathered, the same person said, ’The police called me and asked for information. What could I do?‴

Florescu said one major demand was getting rid of the political content of such courses as history, politics and economics and dropping the required course on Marxist philosophy.

″This Marxist philosophy should be replaced by optional courses on politics that haven’t been taught here for 40 or 45 years,″ he said. ″We don’t know anything about practical politics, about democracy. It’s a national problem.″

Asked if there was anything else the students wanted, Florescu thought for a moment and said with a chuckle, ″A McDonald’s.″

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