CEU Students Talk to Nepszava about Lex CEU

Read below the translation of the article published in Hungarian daily Nepszava on October 19, 2017. For the original text (in Hungarian) see http://nepszava.hu/cikk/1143469-a-ceu-igy-is-ugy-is-tuleli/

CEU will survive one way or the other

Students don’t remain silent: some are shocked, some are angered by the government’s behavior. We asked students in Budapest about lex CEU.

“I literally owe my life to CEU. My parents met there, said Juliana (19), when we asked her about the case of CEU. Julianna comes from Ostrava in the Czech Republic, and studies international relations at Corvinus University, Budapest. She said that CEU’s situation is not regular topic among her classmates, and she herself does not follow the events very closely, but what she has heard so far has left her shocked. “It just doesn’t make sense to me why they are picking at CEU.”

Anna, a dedicated freshman who was hurrying to her next class with her friend, gave a much stronger answer, and was happy to formulate her opinion of the CEU case. “I am very sad that they are dragging a university into such a situation. While we are trying to attract the younger generation to come back to Hungary, they are trying to make it impossible for the very institution that is bringing the kind of international flare here that is luring many to foreign countries.” Her friend put in that the government just wants to regulate the operation of foreign universities, because so far, they operated on a “semi-regulated” basis. “Unfortunately, the government is also operating on a “semi-regulated” basis,” Anna answered.

On the other side of the Danube it was the same, nearly all the students were freshmen. Some said that might be because they are the only ones who still attend all classes. Many of them don’t really know about the situation of CEU, and did not want to answer. In the end we found an older student, Zsuzsa, who is pursuing an MA in chemistry. She wasn’t surprised how uninformed the freshmen were. “Older students don’t really talk about this either. There was some talk about it in the spring, but none ever since, at least in my circles. Everybody tries to concentrate on their little tasks,” she said.

In my experience there is a constant dialogue between the students, but there is a bit of a rift between CEU and other universities in Budapest, said Sára, a second-year student of SPP. She emphasized that the university is constantly working on bridging these small gaps, so far with success. “CEU received massive international support, which is undiminished to this day,” took over another Polish student of CEU. Stanislas is a PhD student at the Department of Political Science, and though the CEU situation upsets him, it is not harming his studies. “If the government wants to hinder our work here, I am telling them: they did not succeed.”

Alisha from the United States also tries to concentrate on her studies. “We are here to study, we can’t afford to let local politics to overshadow this great period of our lives,” she said. Victoria-Maxine, who moved from Austria to Budapest to study at CEU, added: the majority of foreign students fell in love with the Hungarian capital, the life and culture here. “This is a great place. The Hungarian government’s actions send us the message, however, that it would be better if we left.

Spanish PhD student of CEU’s Department of International Relations Filipe is annoyed that there is still a “CEU-case”. He reminded that the Hungarian government have repeatedly stated that the laws apply to all, everyone has to be treated the same. “If they could sign an agreement in the case of McDaniel College in Budapest with Maryland, what makes the case of CEU so difficult? The university has complied with the most unreasonable conditions, still, the government is putting off the signing of the agreement with New York.”

Peter is also a PhD student at CEU’s Department of Political Science. According to him CEU is improving Hungary’s reputation, and its library is one of the best even on an international level. “I just can’t understand how they can sacrifice such a great school in a political campaign. I am afraid that nothing is too dear for this government, even attacking such a respected university. Whatever the outcome will be, CEU will survive, one way or the other -  numerous European cities have said that they would welcome CEU. Hungary would be poorer if it drove CEU out.”