What started as a small student protest in one of Vienna’s Art Academy a week ago, has spread like wildfire (sic!) through Austrian unversities, with up to a thousand students squatting in lecture halls, organizing work groups and task forces, and their own learning. There was a large protest march with 10.000-40.000 (depending on the sources) people marching through the streets of Vienna last week. The hub of action is Austria’s largest lecture hall, the Audimax in the Univerits of Vienna, the very place where fourty years ago student protests and subsequent political and cultural changes originated. Now the grandchildren of the bearded 1968 generation, a generation of young people habitually accused for not being interested in politics is taking action.
Every day there is a full programme of talks, discussions, plenary sessions, music concerts and occasional flashmobs organized by the students, and after a full week it looks like they are here to stay for a while, unless the state will intervene with police force.
Not surprisingly the movement is using Web 2.0 technologies in organizing themselves and in gathering external support. They have set up wikis for the organisation, blogs, a press office. You can read their first press release in English here. Photos are posted on unibrennt pool on Flickr and there is a life stream were you can follow the daily plenary sessions. Last night there were 1700-1800 people watching online, when the people in the hall issued a call for university students in Gemany to join the movement. The faceegroup support group has accumulated over 23.000 fans, and it is all over twitter #unibrennt or #unsereuni #audimax. Comparisons with the grassroots campaign for Obama are being drawn in mainstream papers.