SZFE What's wrong with this picture?

Plenty, unfortunately.

Welcome back. Did you enjoy your coffee? Are your eyes now rested? Are you ready to get stuck in, to part two?

So, who remembers where we left off? Yes, that’s right; demonstrating students with no face masks spreading who knows what in the name of a free university. A university with no interference in any way, shape or form, from the people funding it.

Yeah, right, and meanwhile…in the real world.

The students have barricaded one of the buildings of the university, primarily using red and white plastic tape, and have refused to let the new management into the building.

Further, they’ve done no work. No teaching has occurred, which will, no doubt, cause problems with coursework marking. That said, some supportive lecturers who are “down with the kids”, and “fighting the man”, even at a ripe old age, have marked students down as having attended lectures when they were actively demonstrating. I’m not sure which module that is.

Anyway, we’re now up to date…

They’ve held street parties, they’ve encouraged the feeling that it’s a carnival, a fight against the foul, nation-loving government, with the sort of music you might well expect…far too many instances of jazz flute, for one.

So, that’s what it’s all about. The SZFE claim that their independence is being threatened. A lot of people say that it’s about time, given the sort of crap that most people associate with the productions of students of the SZFE.

The SZFE are not prepared to even open a dialogue with the board of trustees. This seems like a case of burying their heads in the sand, and I’m not hopeful for their chances.

That said, with foreign film stars and celebrities jumping on their bandwagon, they obviously think they can bring international pressure to bear on the government and restore their independence to teach people how to make theatre that nobody wants.

Well, maybe. Then again, I’m 1000% sure that all of these celebrities haven’t got the foggiest about what it’s all about, so leaning on them might not be such a good idea. The phrase “a broken reed” springs to mind.

All of the celebrity endorsements might have an effect if there was a fight to be found here, lurking at the bottom of the SZFE mess, but, in truth, there isn’t.

There’s no fight as such, there’s no drama which demands hand-wringing from luvvies across the world.

No, it’s simple. A process of restructuring has been seized upon by members of the university who hate the government with a passion, and they’re doing their damnedest to make a mountain out of a very small molehill.

These are the people who, at a demonstration against the government, recited Petőfi’s “Nemzeti Dal”, the poem associated with the 1848 revolution that sought to rid the Hungarians of the Habsburgs. Fine, it’s more traditionally recited on March 15th, but there’s nothing to stop people reciting it daily, for that matter. The poem urges Hungarians to free themselves from slavery. And, as such, it’s an obvious candidate, isn’t it? Yes, slavery, and the increased funding which comes with restructuring. Like two peas in a pod.

Never mind all that, though. The recital was performed by an award-winning actress, who read the poem from a iPad or tablet or somesuch. That is a sin. Although Hungarian students are not required to learn as much by heart as they once were, they all have to learn this one, it’s that important.

For someone to stand up, seemingly unprepared, and read “Nemzti Dal” (National Song) from a tablet is beyond the pale.

When students from the SZFE stand in front of microphones, or announce things via loudspeaker, the one thing that ties them all together is the fact that they struggle to get the words out. What on earth are they taught? Is there nothing about voice projection? Are they not trained to learn lines and recite clearly? If not, and it looks suspiciously like that is the case, then what on Earth are they doing?

So, a restructuring which is being exploited by a liberal management that hates the present government. A liberal management that presides over a university that turns out actors unable to recite. A university that turns out actors capable of writing performance art that would titillate young boys, but not much else.


Deputy Rector Novák Eszter:

Would you be prepared to sit down with them (the board of trustees)?

No chance.

Well, that's hardly the spirit of dialogue now, is it?

Doesn't that rather give the lie to the idea that this party to the dispute is intent on proceeding in good faith?

If I were Cate Blanchett, Sir Ian McKellen, Julia Stevenson, or Salman “acting’s in my blood” Rushdie, I’d think twice about professing my support. Understand what’s going on, and then make a considered decision. Rushing to endorse something in the manner of a bull running at a gate won’t necessarily work.

(Editor's note: Unfortunately, the second wave of the coronavirus killed the revolution. Sad, eh?)

And as a further post-script, the decision has been made to resume teaching in a different building next year. And so the ship sinks...