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Theater Uni Protesters Stick to ‘Student Republic’ Despite New Leadership Taking Hard Line

Fanni Kaszás 2020.10.15.
Gábor Szarka, the new chancellor of the University of Theater and Film Arts, and the two new vice-rectors wrote in a statement on Tuesday that because the students rejected their crisis management package and all attempts at conciliation, they consider the student republic terminated. The students indicated in their response that it “cannot be banned” as it is “an ideal under which all citizens of the university are equal.” They also reported that the management turned off the internet in the buildings at night. Szarka admitted that he is personally responsible for this move.
The university’s new leadership said on Tuesday that it considered the strike “terminated with immediate effect,” and it would not provide “infrastructure or financing” to the facility in the future. 
Theater Uni Leadership Demands 'Student Republic' to be Terminated with 'Immediate Effect'
Theater Uni Leadership Demands 'Student Republic' to be Terminated with 'Immediate Effect'

The new leadership of Budapest’s University of Theatre and Film Arts (SZFE) issued a statement on Tuesday, saying that they henceforth considered the “student republic”, an alternative educational model established by striking teachers and students within the university walls, to be “terminated with immediate effect”. Chancellor Gábor Szarka and acting deputy rectors, Emil Novák and […]Continue reading

The statement noted that the teachers and students who occupied the university in protest against the appointment of new leadership which they saw as an infringement on the university’s independence, rejected a crisis management package offered by the new leadership last week.
The leadership also said that they will send individual letters to all employees, teachers, and students of the university, asking them to state their standpoint on the situation and indicate their intentions regarding cooperation with the new leadership. University institutions will gradually revert to “pre-republic operations,” ensured by the chancellor and the university’s operator, read the statement.
However, on Wednesday, the students on strike said at a press conference in front of the university’s central campus that the “student republic” at Budapest’s University of Theater and Film Arts (SZFE) “cannot be banned.” The students said that the republic is actually “an ideal under which all citizens of the university are considered equal,” the students said, adding that they would go on with the blockade as long as their demands are not fulfilled.
The students said that they were not looking to “anybody else to provide the conditions” for their operations at the campus. The students also insisted that the university’s “illegitimate” leadership must not oblige students and teachers to sign “loyalty declarations” indicating their readiness to cooperate.
The students also said that the new management of the university had cut internet services at the campus for the night, starting at 6pm, when they were still having classes and were preparing for the next day. The university building also includes a student dormitory, where students live. They added that they were paying for those services to the university. The students also insisted that technical staff at the campus were being forced not to allow them access to rooms where they kept costumes and equipment and banned making recordings in a facility where filmmakers are trained.
The new chancellor, Gábor Szarka admitted to Hungarian television channel RTL Klub’s news program that he is “personally responsible,” as he was the one who had the internet switched off in the university’s buildings on Tuesday night. According to the channel, students will now only have internet access during the day.
Szarka said that the students who are striking are shattering education, and he doesn’t support that. “They go into places they cannot enter, they don’t follow the university’s internal rules of operation,” he said, adding that he does not support this. Szarka said that he “will go as far as I can to end this kind of internal anarchy;” however, he did not specify what he meant by this statement. The new chancellor says those who disagree with the new leadership or model changes are better off leaving university.
Since then, the caretakers have also locked the student theater, Ódry stage, the room in the Vas Street building where students hold their forums. The students cannot get in, and their belongings stored inside were removed, writes 444.
According to the news portal, the management got ahold of the keys and replaced the locks. Further restricting the use of the internet, they also disconnected the network cable in the building on Vas Street from the port, thus the students can no longer access the network there. Wi-Fi is still not available in the Szentkirályi Street building, but there is at least wired internet from 7 am to 6 pm for the students. Although the ‘siege’ of the university continues, students said they would not give up the protest, and in case the management turns off the heating next time, they already have portable radiators inside the building.
featured photo: SZFE HÖK Facebook