The deaths of four students in a crush during the General Assembly of the University of Bolivia have revived the debate about thousands of “dinosaur” students who are dragging themselves to the faculty without obtaining the slightest degree.
The tear gas grenade caused panic on May 9 among hundreds of students gathered in the amphitheater of Tomas Frias University in Potosi (south).
The button claimed four people, more than 70 injured, and sparked controversy over the role of student union leader Max Mendoza, 52 of whom 33 passed with a student ID card.
For more than three decades, he has not earned any diplomas in the various courses he enrolled in, according to Héctor Arce, a member of the ruling party who wields Max Mendoza’s notebook: since 1989, he has fallen from more than 200 subjects. and ended up more than 100 times with zero as the final mark.
This academic record did not deprive him of a monthly salary of 21,860 Bolivians (about $ 3,150, similar to the rector) because he also headed the executive committee of the University of Bolivia, which coordinates the country’s higher education institutions.
Amid investigations of the tragedy in Potosi, versions of the role of the current president of the Confederation of Bolivian Universities began circulating among the fighting groups during the deadly General Assembly.
On May 21, Max Mendoza was charged with various crimes in pre-trial detention.
– “winners” –
But the case of Max Mendoza is just the tip of the iceberg of thousands of “dinosaur” students, a term “used for years” in the student community and now “popularized nationally,” explains Beymar Quisberth, a sociology student at San Francisco University Mayor Xabier de Sucre, the country’s oldest university. .
According to local media, many student leaders are pursuing their studies to keep their jobs and the benefits associated with them.
Alvaro Quelali, a 37-year-old student union leader at the Universidad Mayor de San Andrés (UMSA) in La Paz, is a 20-year student.
“They are prospectors, it’s a shame,” says Gabriela Paz, a 20-year-old law student and political science student, while her classmate Mateo Siles, 21, says “these people stay in public university places to give alms.”
UMSA Public University Rector Oscar Heredia points out that for many years, the university has been staffed not only by student leaders, but also by thousands of regular students.
Of the 81,723 students at UMSA, 23% (18,796) have been studying for more than 11 years and 6.7% (5,475) for more than 20 years. One thousand are registered for more than 30 years and one hundred for more than 40 years …
“This is an issue that worries us, but is the subject of much debate,” Heredia told AFP.
Karen Apaza, an engineering student at UMSA and an activist against these eternal student leaders, is fighting “these dinosaurs who have lived on the back of the university for more than 20 years.”
The same observations are made elsewhere.
Gabriel René Moreno University in Santa Cruz (East) has about 90,000 students, of whom 3% (about 2,700) have been studying there for more than 10 years.
Guido Zambrana, a professor of medicine at UMSA, reaffirms the need to “recognize that we are going through a deep crisis.” He recommends sweeping and “dismantling the deteriorating structure of corruption, mismanagement, co-management (teachers-students) for decades.
And for him, “the university is outdated, anachronistic, no longer responding to the current situation” in Bolivia.