University of Groningen students stage sit-in demanding return of fired professor
Around 30 students gathered on the stairs of the Academiegebouw at the University of Groningen (RUG) on Wednesday in a protest advocating for more participation in the university's social safety policy, and the reinstatement of a professor who was recently fired, according to a statement from the students.
The students organized under the name Occupy RUG on Wednesday. Among their lengthy demands, they have called for the reinstatement of Dr. Susanne Täuber, they said in a press release.
Dr. Täuber was dismissed from her position at the RUG following a years-long dispute after her criticism of the university's diversity policy. She denounced the social safety policy pursued at the RUG on several occasions in recent years.
The dispute between the associate professor and the university arose in 2018 when Täuber was denied a promotion, although she claimed she met all the criteria. She then wrote an essay to criticize the university's Rosalind Franklin Fellow program. She claimed that the program, designed to allow women to apply for specific academic positions, led to discrimination and unequal treatment.
"I was often told by male colleagues that I only had that job because of that program. A promotion was denied. So indirectly, such a program actually hinders or even destroys women's careers”, she told RTL. Täuber was pressured by the university to retract the article after its publication. After she refused, the RUG considered the situation to be an "irreparable breach of trust" and the university ultimately went to court seeking permission to fire her. Täuber's dismissal occurred during a protest on International Women's Day, as reported by the Dagblad van het Noorden.
Since her dismissal, colleagues and students have used the hashtag #AmINext on social media to express their disagreement with the university's decision. A petition to reinstate the professor has garnered nearly 3,700 signatures, while a crowdfunding campaign was initiated a week ago to assist with her legal fees.
The official demands of the protesters also include the implementation of more specific policies to prevent discrimination and harassment, as well as fostering a secure environment for reporting such incidents.
The protesters have made efforts to remain quiet so as not to disrupt ongoing discussions about doctoral dissertations taking place in the building, according to an Instagram account created for the protest.
The sit-in was still ongoing at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, with no end in sight. The university said it was open to discussing social safety concerns with the students. However, a spokesperson told ANP they could not confirm whether the students would eventually be asked to leave, stating, "We'll wait and see."
Reporting by ANP and NL Times