Facts or defamation?


Last week, Cursor received emails from Chinese students who wanted us to remove an article. The piece was a factual account of how Volt Eindhoven had raised an issue in the municipal council. It was about the pressure that, according to this local party, is put on Chinese students to steal knowledge, including at our university. The emails described the article as ‘negative propaganda’ and ‘malicious defamation’.

‘Fabricated and unsubstantiated information, misleading and with a discriminatory headline. I don’t see why this political junk is brought into the university.’ That was the brief and powerful response of a commenter last week, summarizing succinctly what part of our Chinese community believes is wrong with regard to the article in question, published by Cursor on October 20.

My reaction that Cursor is merely reporting matters that occurred in the Eindhoven municipal council does not receive a response. I did, however, receive an email on Wednesday that was addressed to Education and Student Affairs. Sixty Chinese students and a number of employees asked ESA to take action. ESA just forwarded the email to us.

Cursor would also have liked to talk to the Hong Kong student referred to in the article, who told Volt faction leader Jacco Rubenkamp that she had been contacted by telephone and through a letter. However, Rubenkamp told us that she absolutely did not want to. Therefore, we had to make do with what he says on the matter and with the questions he asked about it in the municipal council.

In my view, this is a sound piece of journalism, but apparently, part of our Chinese community interprets it as an attack specifically aimed at them. This raises the question: why don’t they direct their criticism at the party most likely to receive it: Volt Eindhoven. As it turns out, they have received responses as well.

My next question: is our university community then not allowed to know about what Volt Eindhoven brought up in the municipal council? And those who have major objections to the piece can always express this below the article in Disqus. Or send an open letter to Cursor, was my advice to the complaining students. We haven’t received anything yet. I did invite them to come and talk about it sometime.

I really liked the reaction of a Chinese student who said he came to Eindhoven to gain knowledge, broaden his horizons and forge friendships. You could feel his unspoken question hanging in the air: should all this accumulated knowledge then also be considered stolen property? Another response that struck me was that of a student who merely reported that the picture of China we had posted above the article was incorrect. I started to wonder if he might be missing Taiwan.

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