Daniek Dobber of student faction Groep-één asked the Executive Board during yesterday afternoon’s University Council meeting whether a protocol for how TU/e plans to act during future protests at the university is currently in the making. This question was prompted by actions taken by the university and the police in response to a protest organized by University Rebellion during Career Expo, which is held annually in the Auditorium.
During that protest, three members of University Rebellion were handcuffed and arrested by the police. On October 7, a judge in Den Bosch ruled that the requisition and execution of that action was disproportionate. All three detained members were acquitted. The issue of how TU/e should deal with the right to protest has been a topic of debate at the university for some time now.
Vice-president Nicole Ummelen said yesterday that there are rules pertaining to protests at TU/e, “but that a protocol for how exactly the university should act in case things go wrong is still lacking.” Such a protocol is currently being drafted, Ummelen told the University Council. She then issued an apology on behalf of the Executive Board to everyone who felt unsafe that day during the Career Expo. “We subscribe to the principle that people have the right to protest at our university at all times. We consider it one of our core values within our academic community. That is why we deeply regret the fact that people felt unsafe that day. For that, we hereby offer our apologies.”
When Dobber asked her whether the Executive Board plans to offer a public apology, Ummelen said that she “was doing that right now, during this public meeting of the University Council.” She expected that people outside this meeting would also take note of her apologies. Dobber and her fellow council member Mette Schouten then reiterated their call for a public apology. Schouten: “We believe that a public statement on this issue by the Executive Board would be an important first step. It’s an opportunity for the board to show what we at TU/e stand for when it comes to this issue.” Ummelen responded by saying that she would reconsider, and that she would like to know what the council believes such a public apology should entail exactly.
Martijn Klabbers of staff faction PUR wanted to know whether the board is considering offering the students who were detained and forced to spend a night at the police station some form of compensation. He did, however, not receive a direct answer.
Last night, the police ended an occupation by a group of protesters of a building on the campus grounds of Erasmus University Rotterdam. Some ten protesters were led away, according to Erasmus Magazine. The police started to clear the building around 6pm. Some eighty students and staff members in total took part in the demonstration, ten of which refused to leave. They were led away by the police.
The protesters had asked the Executive Board to enter into a dialogue with them that evening, but the board refused. “We couldn’t manage it organization wise,” a spokesperson for the Executive Board told the magazine. The protesters were invited for a meeting at a later date.
The activists call upon the university to cut all ties with the fossil industry. They also speak out against poor working conditions for teachers and researchers. In addition, they want better accessibility to buildings on campus and urge the university to end study debts.
Hoger Onderwijs Persbureau