President Michael Roth writes in The Washington Post about the Hungarian government’s efforts to close down the Central European University (CEU), a leading private university founded by liberal Hungarian-born financier George Soros.
CEU is accredited in the United States and registered in New York State, but has no U.S. campus. The Hungarian government has targeted the school by passing a law requiring universities to have campuses in the place where they are registered. The response has been mass demonstrations and even threats to suspend Hungary’s European Union membership.
Pointing to recent debates over free speech at American universities, Roth writes:
While we in the United States fret about whether right-wing provocateurs can speak in the evening or the afternoon, a far more dire situation has developed in Budapest.
The Hungarian government is trying to shut down Central European University, a major beacon of research and teaching. The university was supported by the liberal philanthropist and financier Georges Soros and is currently led by Michael Ignatieff, a champion of freedom of inquiry. The right-wing government of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has put enormous pressure on CEU but supporters around the world have rallied to its defense. We should, too!
When freedom of inquiry and expression is threatened on campus, it will be threatened elsewhere in society. In the long run, it’s the most vulnerable who have the most to lose.