AcademieKus goes to university bullying investigation

Business administration specialist Susanne Täuber has exposed bullying and intimidation at universities. On Valentine’s Day, she was awarded the General Union of Education’s annual AcademieKus (Academy Kiss) prize for her work on this issue.

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Every year since 2017, the prize has been awarded on 14 February to an individual or group who has made an outstanding contribution in the academic world. This year, the theme of the award was academic freedom.

The jury praised an article that Groningen researcher Susanne Täuber and several colleagues published in weekly news magazine De Groene Amsterdammer. The article argues that social safety policies at universities have in fact backfired and led to more abuses, to the point where this poses a threat to academic freedom. TU/e professor Remco Tuinier was one of the four co-authors of that article. According to the writers of the piece, the policy on social safety at the universities has backfired and led to more cases of abuse. And that would even threaten academic freedom.

Täuber believes doing something about the high proportion of flexible contracts at universities would be a more effective way to tackle the problem of intimidation. She argues that a side-effect of such contracts is that they putsome people in positions of power, with all the risks that this entails.

Academics under threat

The other AcademieKus nominees were political scientist Sarah de Lange of the University of Amsterdam, who was instrumental in launching a national hotline for academics who find themselves under threat. Action group OccupyEUR was also nominated for highlighting cooperation between academic institutions and the fossil fuel industry by staging a sit-in at Erasmus University Rotterdam. On December 5, a week after the protest in Rotterdam, the boardroom in TU/e's Atlas building was occupied by activists from University Rebellion and End Fossil Occupy.

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