Students from various universities in Italy marched on February 7, expressing solidarity with students at the University of Turin, who are protesting the entry of multinational food corporations on their campus. According to reports, marches were held in Rome, Bologna, Siena, Urbino, Florence and Naples.
In the University of Turin, outlets of McDonald’s and Burger King were opened within the newly constructed building that was earmarked for the expansion of humanities department. This irked a large number of students.
Contropiano reported that on February 7, the students of Turin University organized a social lunch right in front of the fast food chain outlet, from where they proceeded to hold a parade on the streets of the city, asserting that education must be free and accessible.
Activist group Noi Restiamo claimed that after the drastic cuts to state funds for education, mainly following the Gelmini reform of 2009, Italian universities have had to try to get hold of the funds amid increasing competition by asking for subsidies from companies and private foundations.
Autonomous University Collective-Turin said the entry of Burger King within a university structure was part of a subtle and gradual process. “This process has been the birth of thousands of consumer activities that profit from the unavoidable needs of university students. And these activities were born in those holes – in terms of money and space – left free after disinvestment in classrooms, canteens and common spaces by universities,” they said.
The student organization, Si Studenti Indipendenti, also called for intensifying the protests against the opening of outlets of multinational junk food companies in spaces reserved for public education.
Italian trade union, Unione Sindacale di Base, expressed its solidarity with the students in their fight against the privatization of university spaces. The students have decided to organize another agitation on February 14. Earlier, they had also organized a flash mob and blockade at Burger King.