I was eating my lunch in the university cafeteria. Simultaneously, I was arguing with a colleague about whether colors are (really) real or not.
I enjoy these discussions, and when I enjoy myself, I talk (really) loudly and wave my arms. During one of my passionate eruptions — I was in the middle of spreading my arms —someone interrupted me.
“Have you guys heard the news?”
It was a large flocking-together of first-year PhD-students that had come to deliver a message.
That could only mean one thing.
“Class is canceled?!” I jokingly deduced.
Confusion all around.
Surprised but little too eager response from one of the messengers: “Wait, they canceled class today?!!”
“I don’t know — that’s not the news?”
“No, that’s not the news. We’re moving,” their leader spoke.
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“I mean, we — the Central European University — is forced by the Hungarian government to move to Vienna.
He suggested I’d check my mail.
There were unread e-mails from the rector, the Student Assembly (somehow, the department elected me as Student Rep), my supervisor and the Head of Department. That’s a sign of bad news.
I felt like that scary day in Egypt when the school I volunteered at ordered everyone to stay home for their own safety.
Back in Budapest, my phone informed me that next year’s incoming students will study at the new Vienna campus.
New students — that’s about 50% of our department that will not be here next academic year. Discount everyone who’s graduating this year, and there’s not much left.
We’re being dismantled.
From our rector:
“All attempts to find a solution that would enable CEU to remain as a U.S. degree-granting institution in Budapest have failed.
The decision comes amidst a broader crackdown on academic freedom in Hungary, including a state overhaul of research institutes, a government ban on gender studies programs, the forced suspension of research related to migration, and punitive tax measures.”
They’re making us go… It’s happening… They’re doing this…
Thankfully, our Head stressed that students currently in Budapest will be able to finish their studies here.
On the downside, it’s not sure what that amounts to if CEU isn’t staying.
What will be left? Why would I be here?
This was really real, and its color is pitch-black.
Not just for me, but because of the injustice that has been done.