Newsletter - December, 2017

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Warm greetings from your Political Science Department at CEU. I am writing to keep you in the loop with developments at your old and hopefully still cherished department at CEU.

In last year’s newsletter we wrote that 2016 was a special year as we were celebrating CEU’s 25th Anniversary. 2017 was even more special, though we never expected CEU would become world famous for being “a community, brought together as never before by our defense of academic freedom,” to use CEU’s Rector and President Ignatieff’s words. Last year we were boasting about our stunning new building at Nador u. 13-15. This building has now become the symbol of our #IstandwithCEU/#aCEUvalvagyok campaign. We are very grateful for the enormous support we have received from you – our alumni during the last couple of months. We still need to rely on you: we need your support and help more than ever in attracting the next generation of talented PolSci students.

The application deadline for our MA or PhD programs is 1 February 2018. If you know someone who might be interested in studying Political Science at Central European University, please forward them the announcement attached - perhaps by adding a short personal note that encourages them to apply.

Last but not least, we would like to remind you of our Alumni Ambassador Program – please join by sending us an email.

Thank you very much for everything – and, please, do not forget: we always love to hear from you.

It is our tradition to forward you messages of our faculty members. This time, 'meet again' Andrés Moles, who is currently serving as the Director of the Doctoral School of Political Science, Public Policy, and International Relations.

"Dear alumni and friends, 

I’m Andrés Moles and I have been teaching political philosophy at the department for almost 10 years. Some of you might remember me, but most of you might have tried to run away from my classes.

As most of you know, last April the Hungarian parliament approved a new law that threatened the very existence of CEU. Approx. 80,000 Hungarians came to the streets demanding academic freedom, hundreds of institutions (both international and Hungarian) sent letters of support to CEU, and thousands of individuals joined the #istandwithCEU/#aCEUvalvagyok. Perhaps partly because of the outstanding support, the government seemed to relax the conditions for the new law. By early autumn, media outlets reported that a basis for an agreement between Hungary and New York had been reached and that there was hope that government would sign it in a matter of weeks. Moreover, CEU established a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Bard College whereby CEU will conduct some academic activity in New York. It looked like CEU would be able to comply with the new law within the January 2018 deadline. However, a few weeks before the original deadline expired, the government unexpectedly announced a one year deadline extension.

Although the extension looks like a generous offer, in fact it is both unnecessary and harmful. It is unnecessary because the only condition missing is the Hungary-New York agreement. The treaty is waiting to be signed at the Prime Minister’s desk. It is harmful, because it extends CEU’s legal uncertainty for yet another year. This move by the government involves a strategic change in the way that CEU is being attacked: in April the attack was frontal, now we are under siege. One of the reasons for this change is the upcoming elections in the spring. Another reason is the amazing support that CEU received from every corner of the Earth. The government’s hope is that the legal limbo in which CEU now operates will wear out faculty and students, making it harder for CEU to recruit a new cohort of students and attract international faculty. By continuing asphyxiating CEU, it hopes to diffuse the pressure and use CEU as a political tool.

However, not everything is bad. The European Commission has filed a lawsuit against the Hungarian government at the European Court of Justice on ‘lex CEU’ and two other issues. The EJC’s decisions are mandatory for all member states of the EU.

Many of us are optimistic, and believe that CEU has a future in Budapest. It is our conviction that the final outcome of the battle will ultimately depend on the resilience of CEU. We do not let ourselves to be intimidated. Teaching is going on as usual. The university makes plans for the future. We enjoy the new buildings and wonder at the new library. Incredibly enough, you can find students and faculty reading and writing in the library.

Let me assure you that we will be here by the time the EJC passes its ruling. CEU’s Rector and President, Michael Ignatieff, has repeatedly stated that CEU is not in danger and that it will continue to operate under any circumstances.

In the meantime, the new deadline extension makes it legal for CEU to start its recruitment campaign for the 2018-2019 academic year. The legal framework guarantees that all CEU students can finish their studies until 2021-2022.

You are our strength. If you wish to continue supporting CEU, the best way to do it is to apply to its programs, and encourage friends and students to apply. CEU will be in a strong position if it can show that, despite everything, it is able to attract a healthy number of applicants and to enroll great students. CEU continues to offer generous financial aid schemes for MA students and all PhD programs are fully funded. The application deadline is 1st February 2018, for more information see our website.

My best wishes,