‘Board of Mayor and Aldermen shifts responsibility for abuse’

The Eindhoven Board of Mayor and Aldermen has responded to questions, submitted by DENK and PvdA, about racism, manipulation and abuse of power at TU/e and the Design Academy. Adem Topdag, council member for DENK, says that the municipal executive shifts the responsibility for abuse and misconduct to anti-discrimination agency RADAR.

illustration Marc Weikamp

In its response, the Eindhoven Board of Mayor and Aldermen says that it took note of the cases of misconduct at TU/e via Cursor and that it finds it deeply regrettable. DENK and PvdA asked questions about this in the municipality council one month ago. The board endorses the importance of social safety in education, and believes that there is no place in Eindhoven for the incidents described by Cursor.

Still, the municipal executive doesn’t want to make any plans to help prevent this kind of behavior, because the responsibility lies with the educational institutions. And when the board feels that the institutions don’t address the matter adequately, or fail to take any responsibility at all, the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (OCW) can act through the Inspectorate of Education. The municipality does have a role in the broad spectrum of discrimination in the city, the Board of M&A says, “but the municipality designated its anti-discrimination provision to RADAR Eindhoven.”

DENK council member Topdag says that he is unhappy with these evasive answers, “it seems as if the municipal executive shifts its responsibility to anti-discrimination agency RADAR.” The municipality of Eindhoven hires this agency to deal with cases that occur within the Social Domain. However, these incidents occurred at educational institutions. That is why Cursor contacted Mohammed Bencheikh, prevention officer and networker at RADAR.

Importance of reporting incidents

Bencheikh is aware of the municipal executive’s answers, but doesn’t agree with Topdag about the shifting of responsibility, “RADAR is the agency in Eindhoven where people can report incidents of discrimination, but that doesn’t mean that the responsibility lies with us. It lies with the municipality. And yes, we operate in the Social Domain, but it’s not true that we don’t do any work whatsoever at educational institutions. However, they themselves are responsible for their policy. We do try to give advice when we are asked to do so. We can help with education or with the development of training courses for teachers about how to identify abuse.”

New implementation program

“In addition, there’s the municipality’s Implementation program Diversity,” Bencheikh says. “It ends this year (the current version runs from 2019 up to and including 2021, ed.), which gives us the opportunity to pay extra attention in the new program to racism, abuse of power and discrimination at educational institutions. What’s important here is that these kinds of reports also actually reach us.” He responds positively when asked how this is can be achieved via the periodical consultation between the municipality and educational institutions. “We need to be able to identify it first, only then can we start to act. People need to know that they can come to us with these kinds of reports, but we have to ensure that victims don’t need to jump through hoops before they can share their stories. They should first follow a logical route within the institution,” Bencheikh agrees. Apart from identification, RADAR also conducts its own research. “We mark reports about discrimination by sector, so that we can act quickly when we see excesses in certain sectors.”

An expert meeting on this topic is scheduled to take place in November, the municipality informs us.

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