Student White Crow awardee: We felt like hostages, but not of striking teachers

Elena Štefancová, a former FIIT STU student, speaks about last year’s scandal at one of the best Slovak IT faculties.

Elena Štefancová is one of the former FIIT STU students who was awarded the Biela vrana (White Crow) prize, which is given to people who show their civic courage.
Elena Štefancová is one of the former FIIT STU students who was awarded the Biela vrana (White Crow) prize, which is given to people who show their civic courage. (Source: Courtesy of Elena Štefancová)

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Ivan Kotuliak had appeared to be a friendly professor before he became the dean of the Faculty of Informatics and Information Technologies of the Slovak University of Technology (FIIT STU) Bratislava in December 2019, a former PhD student of the faculty, Elena Štefancová, says in the Spectator College podcast.

Following a months-long conflict between a group of students and lecturers on one side and the faculty’s management led by Kotuliak on the other, duelling over FIIT’s future, Štefancová, protesting teachers and some students left the school in the summer of last year. They lost the conflict, which was fuelled after Kotuliak fired his predecessor and professor Mária Bieliková in January 2020.

“He turned his back on most students,” Štefancová, now a research assistant at Bieliková’s institute KInIT, says about Kotuliak’s behaviour.

In the podcast, she goes on to talk about her involvement in the conflict, why protesting students felt like hostages, and if there was ever a reason to be scared during this battle.

Students stood up for the values they believed in politely and vigorously, Štefancová also says, but those in leadership positions proved they cared about power instead of the faculty’s good.

“Education must finally become a national priority,” she notes, also leaving a message for the dean and the university in the Spectator College podcast.

Exam topic: People/Society

Other study materials:

Glossary: Slovakia and transparency Read more  Slovakia’s big step forward in transparency is not enough Read more  Slovak tennis players banned for match fixing Read more 

The Spectator College is a programme designed to support the study and teaching of English in Slovakia, as well as to inspire interest in important public issues among young people.

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