Clare Humphreys’ recent commencement address at Corvinus University, Budapest

Ms. Clare Humphreys is a recent graduate of Corvinus University, Budapest and she gave a remarkable graduation speech on July 23, 2019. We decided to publish the full text of her speech with a brief bio and the link to the video of her address.

Clare Humphreys

Good evening, friends, family, colleagues, professors! Presidium, your Excellency. Thank you for coming.

The ceremony is almost over and then we can throw our hats and toast to our success and then say our goodbyes.. I’m not looking forward to the last part. The thing about international students in a program like ours is that we need one another; we need others who experience the same ‘U-Curve’ rollercoaster of culture shock with us. We also need local students, our guides without whom we would be completely lost. When I arrived I knew no one and I am leaving this place with a rich, diverse and supportive community. I would not be here were it not for you and I cannot accept this honor as speaker alone. My advantages as a native English speaker, an older student and an outgoing person put me here but I can point out so many people in this class who were more focused learners, more dedicated student leaders, more innately intelligent, more devoted to and passionate about their studies than I was. Congratulations to everyone single one of you- you worked so hard to get here and you deserve recognition for that.

There are also many people who are not here today but should be. Some continue to work for their degrees, writing at their own pace. We recognize their determination. Some have been hindered by the university’s complex bureaucracy so they will remain here longer. We sympathize with their frustration. Some have left for their own reasons and we wish them the best. There is also one person who will forever be missing from our community and should be here with us today. I have been asked by my classmates to hold space for a moment of silence in honor of our friend Nurad. Please join me in remembering him….. Thank you.

There are also many people without whom none of us would be here and I’ve been asked to thank them on behalf of our whole class. I can’t name them all but a very very special thanks goes to our angel in the coordinator’s office – Dorottya. You have been unwaveringly supportive, attentive and present for us. Thank you. Also, the security officer whose name we never asked but whose face we will always remember- he made us feel welcome every time we walked through the door, no matter how much we had just wanted to stay home or go out with our friends. Then there was the janitorial and tech support staff members who were always helpful and sympathetic. Another special thanks to all the PhD students who taught us almost everything we know for next to no pay- your labor is literally what keeps this place going. And of course there are the professors who enlightened us, and those who treated us with respect and listened to us when we went to them with our problems. A million times thank you to everyone who listened, who helped.

This ceremony is the end of more than just our personal stay at Corvinus, it is also the end of an era for this historic University. As of next year Corvinus will be transformed from a public school serving the population of Hungary into a private institution, owned by a bank and an oil company and run by a close friend of the prime minister. I know I’m not supposed to put this so bluntly but I’m honestly terrified about the future of my alma mater, and our planet in general. The Ministry of Innovation and Technology which now controls this University has already compromised the integrity of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences by stripping it of its research network, taking over its buildings and diverting its funding. Who knows what is in store for our troubled but resilient University? It survived socialism but how will it fare under neoliberalism? Already the administration has cut merit-based tuition reimbursement and promised to replace almost a third of the Hungarian students with internationals, whom they hope will help them turn a profit for their foundation. I know this game. I am an economic migrant from the American University system. I came here to avoid the shackles of debt and now I am watching my University implement the same policies that are drowning my friends back home. Is this what Corvinus 2030 will look like? Is this what we represent as alumni? A broken system, an oil company? My dearest hope is that this University will flourish and stay true to its mission to provide education for all Hungarians, that it will fill the gap that the CEU’s exile leaves in this country’s academic landscape. Only time will tell.

Corvinus is at a crossroads, along with this country, this continent and the rest of our world. We are staring into the face of ecological catastrophe and have only a decade to change the course of Earth’s history. So no, I will not represent oil interests or an educational system that arrests social progress. I represent only myself and a desire I share with countless others to help this world survive the Sixth Mass Extinction with the least possible suffering. This is our purpose and our challenge- the world needs us to act now and nothing we do is accomplished alone. I learned that here at Corvinus.

Many of the people in this room are regretting allowing me the honor of speaking today so I want to end this uncomfortable speech on a positive note. No matter how difficult the future may seem, no matter how daunting the task at hand appears, my heart tells me we can do this. Everyone walking across this stage today has shown their perseverance, dedication and brilliance in getting here. We have taken a huge step today; we have gained invaluable skills and tools over the last years and today we say we are ready to apply them to whatever comes next.

Friends, Colleagues, Graduates. I am so happy to say congratulations again! So here’s to our bright future, our success and our milestone! Please join me in cheering for every person in this room because we did this together!

***

Clare Humphreys is a recent graduate of the Corvinus Communications and Media English degree program. Prior to and during her stay in Hungary she taught English. While in Hungary she became engaged in the local civil society working at Közkincs Könyvtár, a feminist community library, and attending and supporting events in autonomous spaces such as Aurora. At Corvinus, she helped to found the first international student organization, Budapest Blend, led by foreign students in order to advocate for their own rights within the institution. After the eventful summer of 2018 with the gender ban, the expulsion of CEU, the announcement of privatization of Corvinus and the events at the MTA, Clare became more involved in activism. She was present at the occupation of Kossuth Lajos tér, the slave law protests and other demonstrations. She organized primarily with Szabad Egyetem and Hallgatói Szakszervezet. The skills and experience she gained while working alongside Hungarian and foreign activists are immeasurable; she hopes to apply these in her next chapter in Gothenburg, Sweden.

For the video of the speech please click here.

9 Comments

  1. Bravo, Clare Humphreys for your brave and intelligent words of warning. Your fearless stance against the assault on social justice, the rule of law and sustainable economic development in Hungary today should be an example to people of conscience everywhere. May you prevail in your future pursuits wherever those take you.

  2. …not a memorable speech…..

  3. I just saw the EU Q2 GDP report today (Not good overall for the EU, but Hungary tops the growth rankings once more), then I read this speech and it just reminded me why the old continent is sinking deeper and deeper into economic irrelevance and eventual collapse. It all went into the wrong direction in the 1970’s, as liberal-globalists, overly idealistic fools, took over the academic ranks and eventually the leadership of institutes of higher education. Now they infected all levels of society.

    Take her views on climate change for instance; Nothing really wrong with it, but we know what comes right after the alarming prediction of climate demise, namely a call for our own society to commit economic suicide for the greater global good. EU has been doing it since early 90’s. They managed to cut emissions by 26% since then. But of course, global emissions still increased by well over 50% in the same period, so basically EU economic self-sacrifice has had Zero effect on global emissions trajectory. At this point, even if all EU citizens were to drown themselves in the sea, take their methane-emitting cows with them and find a way to prevent the good people of Africa & ME from taking their place, it would still leave global emissions about 45% over 1990 levels. But this will not prevent the latest idealist to have graduated from our fine institutions of higher education to call for the sacrifice anyway.

    I guess she never came across a first year economics textbook along her educational journey. She missed the part where the global climate is a non-exclusive public good, therefore one cannot rely on unilateral self-sacrifice for the greater global good to achieve the goal. She would have perhaps found out about the free-rider problem, which in this particular case means that no matter how many more converts to the call of economic suicide, it will not work, because others will only compensate and benefit economically in the process. But then again, even if she would have read about these basic concepts, it would not have mattered. After all, few EU economists raised any of these issues, as the EU embraced economic suicide. Goes to show the value of all the educated fools we produced within our society. It seems the more we educate, the dumber we become. It can only mean that the institutions are flawed.

    • Are you doing extreme guessing … lol … Microplastic goes through the air and has been detected in the snow at the North Pole. A stupid donkey would not know that.

  4. GYULA BOGNAR says:

    mmburka: Not a memorable comment!

  5. @ Joe

    Hey Joe, hang onto your wallet and try to remember that two wrongs don’t make a right. When you write, that “it just reminded me why the old continent is sinking deeper and deeper into economic irrelevance and eventual collapse. It all went into the wrong direction in the 1970’s, as liberal-globalists, overly idealistic fools, took over the academic ranks.”

    They wished… Your academic conspiracy theory is hogwash. The capitalist economies are not driven by academics, troll, but by freaks like the Lehman Brothers, the head of the German Central Bank, Donald Trump and stock market speculators and out and out crooks like Orbán, Putin and Chairman Chi. Hold onto your hat troll, the economic miracle these crooks have concocted with your enthusiastic praises is just about to come crashing down on all of us.

    Nice try, but no ceegar for losers like you Joe 🙂

    • Academia prepares teachers who teach our children, business elites, media personalities, judges, lawyers, politicians. The ideological monopoly of academia in effect means ideological monopoly of our entire society. I am not saying its a conspiracy, but it is a real self-sustaining ideological monopoly nonetheless.

      Other than that, your comment in no way discredits the valid points in regards to the fallacy of the concept of unilateral self sacrifice for the greater global good that most brainwashed graduates come out of your institutions with. This fallacy has already been crashing down on the heads of all who live in the EU for decades now. Just a decade ago, Europe as a continent had the highest GDP. Now it is in third place, with Asia, formerly at number three, now in first place and its economy fully 50% larger than Europe’s. North America is also now far ahead and pulling away. Did you bother to look at EU’s latest GDP numbers? Looking at average growth rates since 2008, EU can only be described as economically dysfunctional. And it is hard to pretend that this environmentalist-lead call for unilateral self sacrifice did not play a major role. It is adding significantly to the costs of doing business, making EU less competitive.

      BTW, I do care about the environment, which is why I don’t believe we should continue with a flawed plan, which every first year economics textbook, as well as thousands of years of human history will tell you that it is flawed and will not work. It will only cause harm to those with good intentions. The longer this fiasco continues, the longer we will be without a viable solution.

  6. @ Joeker

    Your comment betrays how little you know of academia. “The ideological monopoly of academia in effect means ideological monopoly of our entire society.”

    The first thing anyone notices walking through the halls of academia is the absence of an “ideological monopoly”. You have Monetarists, Keynesians, neo-classicists, Marxists, Polanyians, etc, teaching side by side in our economics departments. I won’t bother to go through all the Social Science disciplines, the Arts or Fine Arts. There is somewhat more uniformity in the natural sciences – though even there, opinions are mixed about whether the smallest particle is a wave or a particle. Google Heisenberg and try not to get Bohred. (copyright ABG)

    Troll. Please don’t take this personally. You are not only a troll, but a fool !!! You must have gotten your degree from the Donald Trump University, and we all know what a fraudulent enterprise that was.

    • Your comment betrays academia, by exposing it as the clueless, out of touch bunch you are (collectively), since you are a member.

      https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2018-09-17/colleges-have-way-too-many-liberal-professors

      Even those few who are not ideologically inclined towards the liberal-globalist cult, are increasingly learning to shut up and pretend, if they know what is good for them. This monopoly is increasingly reminiscent of the communist era, where all had to be ideologically correct, in other words, there was only one correct way to think and express. It is a cultural dictatorship, not legally but socially and institutionally enforced.

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