Law and Society Association joins many sending letters to Hungarian officials regarding legislation's negative impact on the Central European University

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Dear Ambassador Réka Szemerkényi and Minister Zoltán Balog,

On April 4, the Hungarian parliament passed a law that would effectively prevent the Central European University (CEU) in Budapest from operating in Hungary.  We write to strongly urge the Hungarian government to abandon this harmful legislation.  The legislation will damage the core mission of universities, to pursue ideas supported by information, via shared methods in a community of scholars.  The diversity of scholars at CEU, which includes students and faculty from more than 100 countries, represents the best of university life, in which our shared belief in the value of the pursuit of knowledge binds us together despite differences.

The Law and Society Association has long had close ties with Central European University and its disappearance would be strongly felt by our Association.  CEU students and faculty have attended meetings of our Association almost since CEU began.  The Association hosts a Collaborative Research Network on Central and East European, Balkan, Russian, and Eurasian Studies that includes members who have CEU ties as current and former students and faculty.   In 2001, the Association had its annual meeting at CEU in Budapest, the first American-based academic association to do so.  To this day, our Association’s meeting at CEU – also hosted by the Hungarian Academy of Sciences – was, at more than 2000 participants, the largest academic meeting CEU has hosted.   The Law and Society Association holds CEU in high esteem as a major center of academic accomplishment, and views the current threat to the survival of CEU with dismay. 

Over the twenty-five years of its existence, CEU has grown into a leading institution of higher education, which has played a pivotal role in providing world-class learning and research opportunities to academic communities in Europe and worldwide. Thousands of masters and doctoral students from around the world have studied there, and large numbers of faculty and visitors from all over the world have connections to the university as well.   As a United States-based international association, we are deeply concerned about the attack on a major academic institution with whom we have partnered over more than two decades.  CEU is a resource for the world.  Short-sighted actions on the part of the Hungarian government could destroy the most highly ranked university in the country. 

We see this legislation as a threat to the advancement of scholarship, freedom of expression, and critical thinking, all of which are touchstones of the academic community. We therefore urge the Hungarian government to abandon the amendments to the higher education law and allow CEU to operate freely in Hungary.

Valerie P. Hans, President