Solidarity in and beyond the university: A conversation with OLIve

Universities have traditionally been sites for elite reproduction. This is as much true in the Global South as it is in the Global North. Responding to the exclusionary nature of the university, calls have been made to “decolonize” and “open up” the university.

In this event, we discuss the limits and challenges of opening up the university, while trying to imagine alternative sites for fostering solidarity with those who have been traditionally excluded from/by the university. We ask: Can the university be transformed into a genuine site for solidarity with those who have, in the past, been excluded from it? What challenges are faced by those who attempt to open up the university whose modes of working are now ever more driven by neoliberal logics? Are there alternative sites outside of the university that can be mobilized to better foster anticolonial, inclusive, and accessible education?

To discuss these and other related questions, we bring back friends from the Open Learning Initiative (OLIve)

In our previous event with OLIve, we discussed how we could teach and learn from refugees in the context of the traditional university. In this follow-up event, in light of recent developments, we focus on the limits of the metropolitan university and the alternatives to it.

OLIve, established in 2015 at the Central European University (CEU), runs educational programs for displaced persons in Europe. At present, it runs three initiatives: a university preparation program, an adult education program, and a legal aid cell. Together, these initiatives provide an inclusive space for those displaced persons, including refugees and asylum seekers. 

On 19 January, the administration at CEU communicated that it would end the OLIve program this academic year. In response, students at CEU have started a campaign to save OLIve (the campaign can be followed here, and a petition in support of OLIve can be signed by clicking here). We, at South/South Movement, stand in solidarity with OLIve.  

We are joined in this conversation by Prem Kumar Rajaram and Sohaib Alzoubi.

About our fellow travelers:

Prem Kumar Rajaram is Professor of Sociology and Social Anthropology at CEU and one of the founders of OLIve. He headed the initiative from 2016 to 2022.  His research work covers issues of colonialism, capitalism, race, the university in public life, and critical pedagogy.

Sohaib Alzoubi is a former student at the OLIve-UP program. He is currently an MA Political Science Student at the Central European University. 


    Special thanks to Rohit Sarma (CEU) for co-organizing this event with us. You can read our solidarity statement for OLIve here.