After Poland’s leading university issued disciplinary charges against a student who is an activist for the country’s ruling party, the education minister has condemned the institution as “Marxist” and said he will summon its rector to express opposition to its actions.
“This is open discrimination against students due to their political views,” Przemysław Czarnek, who is known as an outspoken figure in the national-conservative Law and Justice (PiS) government, told news website i.pl.
“Marxism is unfortunately taking over universities in Poland, including the University of Warsaw,” he continued. “If [this student] were a member of the Left’s youth wing, he would be honoured with medals by these Marxists for expressing his views. This is the problem of today’s world in the academic sphere.”
[TYLKO U NAS] @CzarnekP : „Jeśli pan Oskar Szafarowicz byłby np. członkiem młodzieżówki Lewicy, to za głoszenie swoich poglądów byłby uhonorowany przez tych marksistów medalami. Na tym właśnie polega problem dzisiejszego świata w przestrzeni nauki”.https://t.co/28I2uVHRWD
— Portal i.pl (@portal_ipl) September 14, 2023
Czarnek’s remarks came after Oskar Szafarowicz, a 22-year-old PiS activist with a prominent social media presence, yesterday revealed that the University of Warsaw (UW), where he studies law, had issued disciplinary charges against him.
The letter from UW that he shared online shows that the proceedings relate to his activity on Twitter last December, though Szafarowicz redacted the part outlining exactly what activity.
Earlier this year, a number of fellow students at UW – which is ranked as Poland’s joint best university – called for Szafarowicz to be expelled over a series of tweets last December about the case of an opposition MP’s teenage son who had suffered sexual abuse. The victim later took his own life.
„Wojna to pokój.⁰Wolność to niewola.⁰Ignorancja to siła.”
Uniwersytet to świątynia wolności słowa i wymiany myśli.
30 sierpnia 2023 na Uniwersytecie Warszawskim odbyło się niejawne posiedzenie Komisji Dyscyplinarnej UW w trzyosobowym składzie, który wszczął… pic.twitter.com/E12onBjf8z
— Oskar (@Szafarowicz2001) September 13, 2023
In one of his tweets (which Szafarowicz later deleted), the activist accused the boy’s mother, Magdalena Filiks, of trying to cover up the abuse case for political reasons because the perpetrator was a member of the same opposition party. She “put her party career above the welfare of her children,” wrote Szafarowicz.
In fact, the case had not been publicised in order to protect the victims. Many opposition politicians and commentators have accused media and activists linked to PiS of contributing to Filiks’s son’s suicide by reporting on the case last December, which they say helped identify him publicly.
UW’s letter to Szafarowicz said that the disciplinary charges related in particular to his social media activity on 19 December. But he noted that on that day he had done nothing controversial. Some internet users suggested there was a typo in the letter and it in fact meant 29 December, the day he had tweeted about the abuse case.
The suicide of the 15-year-old son of an opposition MP has sparked grief but also anger towards the ruling party and media associated with it, whose reporting helped publicly identify the boy as the victim of sexual abuse https://t.co/CMhwFMOpfq
— Notes from Poland 🇵🇱 (@notesfrompoland) March 5, 2023
After becoming education minister in 2020, Czarnek pledged that he would fight against the “dictatorship of left-liberal views” that “dominates higher education”. Earlier this year, he announced that “harmful leftist entities will not receive any money” from his ministry.
Speaking yesterday about Szafarowicz’s case, Czarnek told i.pl it was another example of “what we are fighting against”. He promised that further steps would be taken if PiS wins a third term at next month’s parliamentary elections.
In the meantime, said Czarnek, he would “invite the rector of UW for a conservation” at which the minister would express “strong opposition to these types of practices”.
“It cannot be that those who have Christian, conservative and national views are discriminated against, and those with ‘leftist’, often even disgusting views are promoted,” added the minister.
The rise in attempted suicides by children in Poland is caused by “LGBT, neoliberal and neomarxist ideologies”, says the education minister
His solution is to protect traditional values and the church to help young people distinguish between good and evil https://t.co/rnnZOe91YD
— Notes from Poland 🇵🇱 (@notesfrompoland) March 9, 2023
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Main image credit: Szafarowicz2001/Twitter
Daniel Tilles is editor-in-chief of Notes from Poland. He has written on Polish affairs for a wide range of publications, including Foreign Policy, POLITICO Europe, EUobserver and Dziennik Gazeta Prawna.