Dozens of students and alumni from Udayana University’s School of Letters staged a fierce protest against the university’s plan to demolish the school’s historic buildings on Jl. Nias in Denpasar, proposing instead that they be turned into a museum.
Students from the schools of archaeology, history and anthropology also invited their friends to join the protest.
Anak Agung Suabawa, the students’ coordinator, explained that the School of Letters was the heart of Udayana University.
The school’s three campus buildings were built in 1958 and they were inaugurated by Indonesia’s first president, Sukarno.
“The historic value of the school’s campus buildings is comparable to those at Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta and the University of Indonesia in Jakarta,” Suabawa said.
Udayana University’s rector plans to have the buildings demolished to make way for the construction of a more modern building.
The buildings, which are in the Dutch colonial style, were some of the university’s original edifices at its campus in Denpasar during the 1950s.
An attempt to demolish the buildings took place on Thursday but it was halted due to spontaneous action taken by the students.
The rector’s office said that modern and well-equipped buildings, costing Rp 10 billion (US$915,751) to construct, would replace the dilapidated school buildings, adding that the current structures — which had been neglected for years — were too dilapidated to be used as learning and training facilities.
Gentry Amalo, a School of Letters’ alumnus, said the students’ proposal to have the buildings turned into a museum was reasonable as they were more than half-a-century old.
According to the Heritage Building Law, the school’s buildings could be categorized as heritage buildings that should be preserved and protected.
The proposal has been submitted to the Bali Cultural Heritage Agency in Gianyar, since only experts are permitted to conduct renovations
of historic buildings.
Indonesia has several historic university campuses including the Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB); Gadjah Mada University (UGM) in Yogyakarta; the University of Indonesia (UI) in Jakarta, and Padjadjaran University (UNPAD) in Bandung.
All the buildings belonging to these higher learning institutions are well-preserved.