Budapest university considers mandatory anti-racism course

Budapest’s Eötvös Loránd University (ELTE), Hungary’s largest institution of higher education, is prepared to introduce a course on anti-racism, and is also considering whether to make this mandatory for all students enrolled in the Institute for Art Theory and Media Studies. Péter György, the institute’s director, said that the course would include Holocaust studies and that while faculty planned to consult with student unions, in order to obtain their input, it will be university professors and researchers who determine whether or not to make this course an elective, or a graduation requirement. HFP’s readers will recall that another Hungarian university recently announced that Holocaust studies would be compulsory for all undergraduates, which resulted in protests from the student body.

The new ELTE course will be entitled “The Cultural History of Racism,” and Professor György’s goal is to “do what we can to ensure that people don’t become politically insane.” But Professor György also added that “there is no such university  that won’t produce Gábor Vonas,” referring to the leader of the far right Jobbik party, who graduated with a degree in history from ELTE. The main student union will be given a chance to review and submit feedback on the course’s contents. Professor György  added that in his experience, students in the institute are fed up when they are assumed to be Jobbik supporters, even though the far right party does appear to be the most popular political force among university students.

ELTE

ELTE

According to a recent study, 20% of university age Hungarians support Jobbik, while the Politics Can Be Different (LMP) green party enjoys 14% support in this demographic. Fidesz comes in at third place with 12%, followed by the centre-left Együtt party (Együtt means Together in Hungarian) at a distant 3%. The Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP) and the Democratic Coalition (DK) stand at 3% and 2% respectively. It’s pretty clear that left-centre Hungarian youth have tuned out from MSZP, DK and Együtt almost completely, and have instead gravitated towards the alternative left, which LMP aims to represent, though with rather mixed success.

Mr. Vona made a few flippant remarks, after he heard of Professor György’s statements regarding Jobbik and political insanity. The Jobbik leader now gives weekly video interviews (Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has long been giving weekly radio interviews on Fridays), which are published on the web, and this is where he responded to Professor György. “This armchair is black, which clearly suggests racism, and my shirt is white, which demonstrates the presence of the Ku Klux Klan,” he said. Mr. Vona then offered to be a guest lecturer in ELTE’s new course.

And because in Hungary, nearly anything seems possible, one can’t completely dismiss Mr. Vona’s offer.

3 Comments

  1. Avatar Charlie London says:

    “do what we can to ensure that people don’t become politically insane.”

    This is hardly the rhetoric of a responsible University Chancellor.

    Why single out Vona when there is a much better candidate for his tangential accusation of insanity?

    That of Orban Viktor himself.

    Elte is ranked 551-600 in the 2014 university rankings (and lower in the 2015) which is a reflection of how education is taught in Hungarian universities.

    (Toronto was 17 and 20)

    My partners qualifications which would have enabled her easy admission to any Hungarian university, do not meet the required standard for universities here in England. She has had to study a supplementary qualification before she could apply here.

    Hungary’s universities are a hot bed for Jobbik recruitment with most students being of a right-wing tinge – against all the usual global trends.

    And the students union is in the grip of Fiddeszbik radicals who are paid enormous salaries and so stay everlasting students. Some will still be studying when they are Octagenarians, such is their reluctance to give up the sinecures.

    The Holocaust studies are just a sop to the international reputation of students – and gives some idea of the power of the student unions when they have to be consulted as to the contents of the course.

    A short of stage whisper to the world that ‘look we’re doing something about our Holocaust-denying reputation’.

    Student Unions are a throwback to the Communist era when education was reserved for the Communist ‘KISS’ elite, which included a certain Viktor Orban. The level of corruption can be smelt from afar and is why Hungarian universities score so badly.

  2. Recalling my school-age in Hungary I wonder what would be better; to teach anti-racism and holocaust or to teach unadulterated history free from ideology and political influence in a honest correct way.

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