2013. március 3., vasárnap

Violation of Privacy Rights Committed by a Hungarian Student Union - For The CEU Weekly

Original publication: http://ceuweekly.blogspot.hu/2013/03/violation-of-privacy-rights-committed.html

In the midst of student protestations against the government that made HaHa (Students Network) and HÖOK (the countrywide organization of Student Unions of Hungarian universities) cooperate, suddenly a really disgusting document became public that ruined the respectability of the Student Union of the country’s most prominent faculty, Faculty of Humanities of ELTE.
The document is an Excel table containing private data of 600 students who participated 2009 in the faculty’s camp for new first year students. Beyond the data provided by the students themselves for the purposes of application (name, address…) there are additional columns indicating notifications made by Student Union members to sign who might possibly become Student Union member later and who not. These notifications provide information collected from social media sites and involve religious and ethnic background of the students, their political preferences and moreover shocking sexist remarks in case of girls. The column where “yes” or “no” is written in each rows turned out to refer to the person’s presupposed Jewish or non Jewish origin, whereas the column containing 1, 2, 3, or 4 refers to the party that the person assumedly supports. Regarding the sexist remarks – I do not want to quote any of them.
Besides the mere non-sense of the collection and storage of such data, the significance of this now publicly known document is that Student Unions of Hungarian Universities have quite great part in the decisions regarding scholarship and dorm room distributions. And experience shows that students marked as Jewish, liberal or leftist were unlikely to gain any positions in the Student Union of ELTE BTK (Faculty of Humanities of ELTE). It is noteworthy that quite a few leaders of Jobbik worked at their younger age in the Student Union of ELTE BTK, which has been obvious for years, but until now it could be considered a mere prejudice that members of ELTE BTK Student Union must be radical rightists.
As it turned out, such database was developed not only for 2009, but was an annual routine of the faculty’s Student Union. Following the scandal ELTE’s leadership suspended ELTE BTK Student Union’s mandate.
The infamous excel document came to light clearly for the interest of those who want to weaken the student protestations by strengthening tension between HaHa and HÖOK. Unfortunately the HÖOK (which is a countrywide body of Student Unions) did not condemn the ELTE BTK Student Union as energetically as it should have been done. It is justified to fear that the aim of ruining the alliance between HaHa and HÖOK will be achieved. 
Myself – as an alumna of ELTE BTK – must add that the worst thing is that I am not greatly surprised by the existence of such a nasty list. I am shocked only by the degree of demonstrated
sexism, Anti-Semitism and right-wing bias. One might hope only for two things: that this scandal at least will lead to the birth of a better Student Union body following the approaching elections and to the weakening of Jobbik’s popularity among youth.

Agnes Kelemen

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