Yes, We Keep on Protesting

The story of the Hungarian students’ protests against the government’s antidemocratic higher-education-reform goes on. Since the 6 requirements of HÖOK (official representational body of university students) and HaHa (Students Network) were not fulfilled, but on the contrary, most of them neglected by the government until the deadline of the students’ ultimatum (February 11, 2013), university and high school students took a hard line again. The few days that have passed since February 11 saw masses of student demonstrators going to the streets in various cities across Hungary, the occupation of university buildings and the (partial) withdrawal of the State Secretary for Education, Rózsa Hoffmann. She continues her work as State Secretary of Public Education, while there is a new State Secretary for Higher Education, István Klinghammer. His entrée into his new function was rather arrogant, since he declared that the protesting students are only some immature playing young people.
In the morning of February 11 members of the Students Network interrupted several lectures held at the Faculty of Humanities of ELTE and organized a forum for the students to discuss the further steps to be chosen in the struggle for the future of Hungarian higher education. At 3 o’clock in the afternoon HaHa held a demonstration in Deák square. It is important to note that Students Network functions on the basis of direct democracy, thus every participant of their forums has the right to speak to the participants and all the decisions are voted by the participants. This method makes Haha’s decision making quite slow, therefore one should admire their results in organizing demonstrations even more.
By the evening of February 11 student demonstrators occupied the buildings of the Faculty of Humanities of ELTE, Corvinus University and University of Theatre and Film Arts. A part of the university occupier students spent the night in one of the buildings of Faculty of Humanities of ELTE and declared a new partial agreement plan concerning the reform of higher education that is an alternative to the pact signed on January 21 by Minister of Human Resources Zoltán Balog and HÖOK president Dávid Nagy.
Why is HÖOK still cooperating with HaHa which is not an elected representational body, unlike HÖOK? The reason is the government’s incorrect (or nasty might be a more appropriate expression here) attitude towards any kind of democratic organizations, which was once again proved when Fidesz initiated to include in the Basic Law (that Hungary has instead of a Constitution) the infamous student contract, the most controversial innovation of the higher education reform plan, despite the pact signed with HÖOK on January 21 that promised to alleviate it. The student contract would oblige all the students who receive student loan while studying in Hungarian higher education to work in Hungary for twice as many years as the years spent at the university, without any kind of guarantee to be able to work in their profession. Consequently HÖOK has no other choice than cooperating with those who really care for the university’s future: Students Network and Professors Network, instead of those who have the power to reform higher education but are only interested in decreasing spending on it (apparently the government).

Agnes Kelemen,
Nationalism Studies


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