Secession of Ukrainian students from Lviv University

Secession of Ukrainian students from Lviv University. In 1899 the Galician Ukrainian public began campaigning for the creation of a Ukrainian university in Lviv. Ukrainian students took an active part in the campaign. Their public rallies and demonstrations calling for the establishment of the university brought them into open conflict with the Poles, often in the form of violent street clashes. In 1901, after the administration of Lviv University expelled the Ukrainian student organizers and called on Polish students to fight the Ukrainians, 440 of the university’s Ukrainian students formally withdrew in protest and registered at other universities in Vienna, Prague, Graz, and Cracow. The students had the general support of the Galician Ukrainian community, which created a ‘secessional fund’ to support them. The secession, which lasted from 1 December 1901 until the 1902 summer semester, had no practical results. The Ukrainian community’s demands for equal status for the Ukrainian language in Lviv University’s administration and the creation of Ukrainian chairs there (earlier they had demanded a separate university or the division of Lviv University into Ukrainian and Polish campuses) were ignored by the Austrian governmental bureaucracy. The secession, however, brought the issue to the attention of the Austrian parliament and of European public opinion, and the students’ studies abroad widened their intellectual horizons. In the opinion of contemporary publicists and later historians the secession had negative consequences, in that it was a ‘flight from the field of battle’ which served only to weaken the existing Ukrainian student organizations and the campaign for a Ukrainian university in general.

Bohdan Kravtsiv

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 5 (1993).]

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