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Management Day 2023: Concern regarding academic freedom and social safety

30 May 2023

Noting the unruly waters of the Paterwoldse meer, President of the Board of the University Jouke de Vries opened Management Day on 24 May 2023 at the Rietschans in Haren. In an introduction on the subject of academic freedom and social safety, the President of the Board took Faculty Board members and service unit directors on a personal journey concerning the ‘unruly waters’ the University must navigate.

Jouke de Vries outlined his vision on academic freedom in which researchers, in the context of science, are free to choose what they research and how, allowing critique of their own institution. According to him, there can be no doubt about this right to academic freedom. Jouke de Vries is therefore saddened that the notion of academic freedom has become the source of a conflict— a conflict which is manifesting in a variety of forms at more and more universities inside and outside of the Netherlands.

The President called upon Faculty Board members and service unit directors at the UG to help abate the unrest regarding social safety within the academic community. ‘I want the UG to be a place where everyone feels safe, a place people can be proud of. More than anything, I want to understand where the fear and unrest experienced by a part of our community is coming from, so that we can abate these feelings.  For that I will be needing all of you. Today I am appealing to the wisdom of the crowd'.

The participants exchanged reactions and personal experiences in small groups.  They discussed ways in which a proper dialogue can arise within the academic community.  The Board of the University will further develop the recommendations made.  Meanwhile, the Board is preparing visits to faculties and service units to listen to concerns and stories of staff members and students and to discuss these with them.  Because keeping up the discussion about social safety is essential, that much is abundantly clear.

Last modified:01 June 2023 10.33 a.m.
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