Univ. Amsterdam lecturers again protest lack of transparency

Head of the UvA Executive Board Louise Gunning addresses the occupants of the Maagdenhuis (Photo: Hanna Daych / NL Times). (Head of the UvA Executive Board Louise Gunning addresses the occupants of the Maagdenhuis (Photo: Hanna Daych / NL Times))

Lecturers at the University of Amsterdam are again protesting against the lack of transparency at the university This time they are concerned about the "undemocratic" and "non-transparent" procedure in appointing the new Chairman of the Executive Board this spring. The new chairman will succeed Louise Gunning, who after by students and staff in which the call for democracy stood central.

Hundreds of lecturers, united in the protest movement Rethink UvA, expressed their concerns in an open letter addressed to the candidates for the Chairman position in the Volkskrant on Monday.

According to the lecturers, the selection procedure proves that a "confessional administrative culture" still exists in the UvA. The candidates are recruited by a third party and their names are kept secret. "At the end of this process, the chosen candidate will be parachuted into the Maagdenhuis and an astonished onlooking academic community will be reduced to passive spectators", they write. They call on the candidates to announce themselves and submit their comments and ideas at a public meeting in the Maagdenhuis next week.

"We are at least entitled to a public debate where candidates defend their vision for the university", media studies lecturer Jan Teurlings said to the newspaper. Rethink UvA believes that this procedure shows that the reform implemented last spring after the protests - including more financial openness and an independent commission investigating the possibilities for democratization and decentralization - did not address all the issues. "There were minor improvements, such as a decrease in the number of flexible contracts, but nothing changed fundamentally." Teurlings said. "If that remains the case, it an again lead to an eruption."

In a response to the letter, the University told the Volkskrant that the participation in the new procedure is "extensively involved". In addition to participation in the selection committee, students and lecturers can also take part in the discussion about the new chairman's job description. The university is looking for a leader with "fresh eyes", someone with "democratic leadership" who is "open to social change", according to the newspaper.

Rethink UvA's criticism is not shared by all lecturers.