Update: situation Cursor

Since the Cursor website was blacked out, there have been several developments that we, the Cursor editorial team, would like to explain. First of all, we would like to thank the TU/e community and everyone outside it for the many expressions of support and for the actions that have been initiated on our behalf.

photo Jessica Girvan / iStock

The responses show that there is widespread support across all sectors for having an independent medium at the university. The results of a poll we put out on Instagram on Wednesday confirm this. 97 percent of the nearly one thousand respondents believe that TU/e needs an independent news medium. All of this reinforces our commitment to keep working decisively towards this.

We are pleased to learn from the statement of the Executive Board that the door is open for dialogue. We have been trying to engage in that dialogue since 2021*, when shortly after his decision not to publish another 'problematic article' on the advice of the editorial board, the editor-in-chief was pressured by the Executive Board to take a position elsewhere within the university. The attempts at dialogue proved unable to prevent further encroachment on our independence. All available channels at the university, including the Supervisory Board, have been consulted, unfortunately to no avail. Nevertheless, we are willing to reopen that dialogue at any time and hope it can focus on how to guide the medium back towards independence. However, our demands, as set out in the statement of October 3, must first be met.

Today, a first gesture was made to that end by the Executive Board, through a letter from the secretary. This letter confirms what we were told by the head of the Communication Expertise Center (CEC) in a conversation earlier this week, namely that the editors will be involved in the process of appointing a new general editor (should Han Konings not return to his position). It also states that the Executive Board is willing to enter into conversation regarding the other two demands. Furthermore, it is mentioned that, regarding the revision of the editorial statute, the members are very willing to accept the ruling of the Committee for Reporting Irregularities, which they expect this fall, as a starting point.

While we greatly appreciate this initial step from the Executive Board, we would like to emphasize that a solution should not be unnecessarily delayed. If the Executive Board recognizes the importance of having an independent medium, then meeting the demands should not be an issue. The sole purpose of those demands is to safeguard our independence; one would expect that the Executive Board could have no objections in that regard.

In asking the Executive Board to meet our demands, we have received support from FNV Onderwijs & Onderzoek and AOb, who on our behalf verbally communicated to the university the demands we formulated in our statement on Tuesday evening. Next week, an official demand letter will follow as an official step from the unions to reinforce our plea. We hope this will lead to the Executive Board publicly confirming to meet our demands. It should be crystal clear to us as editors and to you as readers that the Executive Board hears us and restores journalistic freedom.

The Volkskrant article of October 4, 2023, clearly outlines the events leading up to the removal of Han Konings from his position. Volkskrant also added one of Cursor’s blocked articles to their article. For this reason, we have decided - in spite of the editorial board’s urgent advice against publication - to share both versions (1 and 2) of the article.

It is also evident from de Volkskrant’s reconstruction and the aforementioned advice of the editorial board that arguments are being put forward about matters that are unrelated to journalistic quality. In addition, the rector, who is part of the Executive Board, has explicitly stated via e-mail that she does not consent to publication of her response. We view this e-mail from the rector, combined with the pressure put on the general editor, as administrative interference.

Over the past few days, we have received support for our cause from various quarters, including from de Kring (umbrella organization of higher education media), Observant (Maastricht University newspaper), news site ScienceGuide, WO in actie and the Dutch Association of Journalists (NVJ). Six Eindhoven political parties (D66, GL, PvdA, PvdD, SP and Volt) have submitted questions to the board, and MPs Lisa Westerveld (GroenLinks) and Peter Kwint (SP) have jointly submitted parliamentary questions to outgoing Minister Dijkgraaf.

*Correction: an earlier version of this message stated that the editor-in-chief decided not to publish the article in 2021 under pressure from the Executive Board, this is not correct. It was shortly after his decision not to publish on advise of the editorial board, that pressure came from the Executive Board to take up another position within the university.

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