Current exhibition: "Student unrest at Ca' Foscari (1967-1978)"
Exhibits - theca 1
1 – 1967, 13 December: the reasons for the student protest during the first occupation
The General Assembly of the students who had been occupying the University since 12 December explained the reasons for the protest and occupation to Rector Italo Siciliano, namely the changes to the university regulations in the process of being approved as part of draft law no. 2314 ("Gui reform"), the measures concerning study support and the canteen, the need for student representation on decision-making bodies, and the direct intervention of students in teaching activities and in the curriculum of both faculties, namely Languages and Economics.
A dazibao was hung in the courtyard of the occupied Ca' Foscari, summarising the concept of anti-authoritarianism, which was the banner of the Student Movement. The school with its barons, the family structure and the Church institution were criticised, and the courtyard became the place for the Movement to express its claims.
The first occupation ended on 16 December. The Student Movement had become united and had begun an initial discussion with Rector Siciliano; it had experimented with the practice of assemblies, placing decision-making power in the hands of the General Assembly, in which all the students were called upon to participate and in which decisions were taken by majority vote; relations with the Rector were managed by a representative body, the Dogadum Cafoscarinum.
Student representatives were then admitted to the Board of Directors in February 1968.
2 – 1968, March: the charter of claims during the second occupation
The second occupation of 1968 began on 4 March and lasted until 29 March 1968. The Student Movement decided to repeat the December occupation, this time with better planning. The occupation was approved and voted by the Assembly, which gathered in the courtyard of Ca' Foscari for the occasion.
The students of the Movement wanted to "disrupt the power system inside Universities"; they protested against "repressive" teaching: the inflexibility of the curricula was seen as the imposition of an antiquated "official ideology" that was totally out of touch with current affairs. Criticism was directed at both the teaching methods and the professors.
3 – 1968, 21 March: the charter of claims of the Faculty of Economics
Economics students asked for the establishment of departments, curricular freedom, the introduction of an open session for exams, measures for working students, the extension of the pre-salary, full-time lecturers, etc.
The students obtained the creation of a Council, which began its activities in April, after the end of the occupation, and lasted for almost the whole of May: there was an open discussion among professors, assistants and students in which the objectives of the occupation and the themes of the charter of claims were discussed, with a mix of harsh statements and conciliatory attitudes, the developments of which were also followed by the newspapers of the time.
The mediation of Mr. Saraceno, Professor of Business Economics, enabled the Council to initiate the reform of the Faculty of Economics, which was split into Business Economics and Political Economics.
4 – 1968, 21 March: the charter of claims of the Faculty of Languages
Among other things, the Language students also called for the establishment of departments, motivated by "the limitation of the exclusive power of professors"; therefore, said establishment was intended as a means of democratisation, as well as a way of unifying teaching and research.
It also challenged the practice of dictation, which was responsible for imparting a sterile kind of knowledge, incapable of encouraging critical thinking in students.
5 – 1968, March: the Counter-Courses of the Counter-University
During the second occupation, the students organised a full-fledged Counter-University to illustrate how the University should work.
Fifteen Counter-Courses were organised, as decided and approved by the Assembly. The topics of the Counter-Courses, which were the expression of a new teaching approach to current affairs, included Latin America and Underdevelopment, Western Culture and Eastern Culture, Consumer Society, the Black Problem in the United States, and Theatre and Society. The Counter-Courses were designed to be methodologically opposed to the official courses and were aimed at experimenting with an innovative teaching method based on interdisciplinarity, connection with real life, group work and the active participation of students.
6 – 1968, 8 March: the contribution of Ca' Foscari's student assistants
The organisation and effective implementation of the Counter-Courses was also made possible by the involvement of the Assistants, gathered in the Ca' Foscari Association of University Assistants.
The involvement of the Assistants in the Student Movement was gradual, but, by the beginning of the second occupation, the Assistants were also active in calling for the admission of representatives of all the university components to the Faculty Councils, the creation of new commissions, and the establishment of departments and departmental councils.
The concrete results of the second occupation were the creation of the Council, with the subsequent split of the Faculty of Economics, student representation on the Administrative Council, curricular flexibility and the creation of a High School Students Commission, which brought together at Ca' Foscari representatives from high schools, including the Paolo Sarpi Technical-Commercial Institute, the G.B. Benedetti High School (specialising in scientific studies), the Marco Polo High School (specialising in classical studies) and the Niccolò Tommaseo Institute (specialising in education).
Exhibits - theca 2
7 – 1968, 7 June: an example of “political theatre”: the "Ma Ma Ma" production
In June 1968, the students of the Ca' Foscari University Theatre put on a "political theatre" show, re-proposing the themes of the European student protests.
The "Ma Ma Ma" production, the title of which stood for "Marx Mao Marcuse", was dedicated to the student revolt in Germany. It was directed by Beppe Zambonini, with actors Toni Cremonese, Roberto De Langes, Gianni Guidetti and Cristina Joos; the texts were by Goetz Beck, Eugenio Bernardi, Uwe Hermann and Franco Miracco; the music was by Giuseppe Sinopoli.
On 13 June 1968, Ca' Foscari, which was celebrating the 100th anniversary of its foundation – which took place in 1868 –, became a University of Studies with the establishment of the Faculties of Literature and Chemistry; however, student demonstrations and brief occupations continued to take place. On 5-7 September, the Italian Student Movement held a national conference in Venice in conjunction with the famous protest at the Venice Film Festival; the main leaders of the Movement took part in it: witness Luigi Bobbio and Guido Viale from Turin, Adriano Sofri from Pisa, Marco Boato and Mauro Rostagno from Trento, and Piperno, Scalzone and Turi Toscano from Rome.
During the following years, the Ca' Foscari Student Movement carried on with its demonstrations and occupations, at least until July 1978.
8 – 1975 - Graffiti at Ca' Foscari
In 1977, a number of graffiti were made in the courtyard of Ca' Foscari, on the occasion of the first and only occupation of the university by the technical-administrative staff, in agreement with some precarious Ca' Foscari lecturers and the Student Movement.
The graffiti were designed and painted by Prof. Marcello Pirro, a painter, together with a group of students from the Venice Academy of Fine Arts, using material provided by the Ca' Foscari Student Movement and following the Movement's protest and political stance: symbols of power and political struggle and the satirisation of power.
9 – 1975, Graffiti at Ca’ Foscari: Varalli, Zibecchi, Miccichè, Boschi
Graffiti dedicated to the events of the protests; it featured the names of comrades who had been killed during that period: Claudio Varalli, killed by a fascist in Milan on 16 April 1975; Giannino Zibecchi, run over and killed by a carabinieri truck in Milan on 17 April 1975; Tonino Micciché, militant of Lotta Continua, killed in Turin by a security guard on 17 April 1975 during a demonstration for the right to housing; Rodolfo Boschi, PCI member, killed by policemen on 18 April 1975 during a clash following a demonstration in Florence.
10 – 1975, Graffiti at Ca’ Foscari: Giannino Zibecchi; Fascism and the DC
One of the typical themes of the protest was the identification of the enemy with Fascism and the DC: in this graffiti, a fist breaks up the fascio and the crossed shield.
Just below, above the entrance to the large lecture hall in the place of the current courtyard bar, there is a graffiti depicting the death of Giannino Zibecchi, run over and killed by a carabinieri truck in Milan on 17 April 1975.
11 – 1975, Graffiti at Ca’ Foscari: solidarity with oppressed peoples
This graffiti, painted on the wall of the Ca' Foscari courtyard, depicts the theme of the revolt of the masses and oppressed peoples, as well as international solidarity.
The graffiti were erased on two different occasions:
the first piece, the one depicting the crossed shield of the DC and the fascio shattered by a huge fist, was covered up after a very short time; it was Rector Feliciano Benvenuti who decided to erase it between the end of 1977 and the beginning of 1978;
everything else was erased under the Castellani Rectorate in the summer of 1985, when everyone was away and on holiday, immediately after the visit of Pope John Paul II in June 1985.
12 – 1968: essays on student revolts
Driven by the interest and involvement of students and lecturers, the University Library acquired numerous essays dedicated to the student revolts in Italy and Europe. Here is a selection of them.
12.1 – Kritische Universität: documenti e programmi della contro-università degli studenti berlinesi. Padua, Marsilio, 1968.
- 12.2 – Contro la scuola di classe: le linee di lotta del movimento degli studenti medi nella elaborazione di Torino, Milano, Trento, Genova, Modena, Bologna, Pisa, Siena. Padova, Marsilio, 1968.
- 12.3 – Documenti della rivolta studentesca francese, edited by Centro di informazioni universitarie. Bari, Laterza, 1969.
12.4 – La rivolta degli studenti: parlano i protagonisti, Jacques Sauvageot ... [et al.], edited by Hervé Bourges; the appendix provides testimonies on police repression. Milan, A. Mondadori’s Il Saggiatore, 1968.
12.5 – Rivolta studentesca e campus universitari, by Pietro Bellasi; preface by Achille Ardigo. Milan, F. Angeli, 1968.
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