Dutch universities open hotline for threatened scientists and academics
On Monday, the universities in the Netherlands opened a hotline for scientists who receive threats. According to the universities, scientists have experienced “too much” online hatred, physical threats, and harassment in recent years. They hope the hotline will make it easy for them to find help.
WetenschapVeilig is a website and a telephone control room that is available 24/7. Scientists can report threats there and find information about where to go for the correct help. Every threat is also forwarded to the scientist’s employer, who will contact them to arrange further support.
Pieter Dusienberg of the umbrella organization University of the Netherlands, one of the initiators behind WetenschapVeilig, called threats “an attack on academic freedom.” Many universities have special teams of security specialists or lawyers who can help threatened scientists. WetenschapVeilig will connect them to those teams directly, he said to RTL Nieuws.
The platform will be launched at a gathering on Monday. It is the initiative of the Universities of the Netherlands, the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW), and the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO). The Ministry of Education, Culture, and Science supports the platform.