Thursday, June 16, 2011

Student Demo in Budapest

A student demonstration took place in Budapest, in front of the Corvinus university, on June 16, 2011.
First, it was planned as a ‘university occupation’, with the permission of the rector. Later on it turned out that it was not possible to get any permission, so the students of various universities just gathered in front of the Corvinus university to hold some speeches and transparencies, and after 1,5 hours of demonstrating everyone interested moved to the 'Kossuth Klub' nearby the Corvinus university to participate in the workshops. 

Why was there any need for the demo?

* it's obvious, the government wants to do large reforms also in the education system, as in every area of the legalisation, state and social systems;
* we can presume the directions of this reform, according to the general political tendencies of this government;
* but there is no ready law plan or draft, just some blurred half-information became public through the media; for example: unifying or closing some universities, creating a new university about state administration, decreasing the quota of certain faculties, and increase it for others, introducing fees for studying at some faculties etc.;
* some suppose that this leaked information is to test the opinion of the people, and to measure the resistance;
* definitely they want to take out money from the education, actually 88 billion HUF, but this amount may increase;
* the Minister of education is from the conservative Christian democrate party, which is a semi-independent appendix of ‘Fidesz' (central-right wing party that holds the majority in Hungarian Parliament at the moment). The Minister offered her renunciation to the Prime Minister who obligated her to continue the reform;
* the educational reform was restarted already three times, because the new law drafts were not worked out enough, or they were too scandalous;
* the Ministry of Education is isolated in the government, they don't have support, they are even more conservative and more catholic than the big Fidesz party, and there is seriuos critics from the Fidesz party's educational politicians toward this catholic conservative group.

What happened?

* some students from the Corvinus university initiated some resistance and protest against the education politics of the government (they wanted to close the Corvinus university);
* other group from the same university gave proposals to the educational minister, about what do the students want to see in the reforms;
* there was a debate: proposals and communication with the government vs. protests and resistance;
* the minister answered, that any discussion between the students and government is useless, because there is the so called "national consultation" (the governing party used to send regulary a paper to all citizens, with that they can answer some stupid demagog
* 30 people from almost all universities created some organizing group, the "student network" (hallgatói hálózat);
* as it was the end of the semester, and the students were in the middle of the exams, the organizing group couldn't expect strong activity from the students (anyway the political activity of the students in Hungary in the last decades converges to zero);
* the organizing group decided to do a whole night forum with the students, with other cultural programs, music, etc. it would be in the building of the Corvinus university;
* the rector of the Corvinus university stated to the media that if the students resist against the educational reforms, he won't obstruct their actions;
* so the organizing group decided to announce the rector about its plans, and he agreed and welcomed the students to implement their plans;
* in the last two or three days before the political forum, the rector changed his mind, and decided to prohibit the student forum;
* finally the students made a demonstration outside of the university building, it was pretty good, with 200 participants (yes, in Hungary that's a good number). There were also three workshops held in another place, the "Kossuth Klub", a traditionally leftist place with some lecture halls. The workshops were about the educational politics of the recent times, the ideological background of possible actions and resistance, and generaly about the situation of the young generation (~18-28 y.o.). One of the workshop leaders was Miklós Tamás Gáspár, a leftist philosopher and scholar who participated in the anarchist movement in Hungary in 60’s and 70’s.;
* the organizing group knows that September is much better for involving students into  political activity, and now, in June, it was just a start of this "brand", and the organizing group wants to continue... Btw, this name ("student network") is not new, it's borrowed from a very similar group in 2006 that also wanted to organize student plenum in the university, and the rector closed completely the buildings for two days because of their intentions.

A video (in Hungarian)

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