This morning at 7:05 a group of students occupied the main building of the University of Utrecht. The students are protesting against the university’s board decision to stop publishing the paper version of the university newspaper. The action is the first of a series of national initiatives to stop budget cuts in education.
University of Utrecht, the Board of Directors building, February 1st 2010
The Board of Directors crossed the line this time, and this is unacceptable! Despite all efforts to save the paper version of the Ublad (the University newspaper) with the support of thousands of students,professors and the complete U-raad (Council of representatives of the University community), they continue to impose their controversial policies. In the meantime, the quality of our education is at risk and our student grants are about to be cut. This is why we, the occupiers of the building of the Board of Directors at the University of Utrecht, feel obliged to take action and take a stand in favor of an independent, paper version of the Ublad, for the democratization of our University government, and against the cuts on our education imposed by the Dutch government.
By cancelling the paper version of the Ublad, it has become impossible to keep the University community informed and to guarantee a democratic voice. The University should be a place for independent thinking and should always provide space for criticism. An independent University newspaper is precisely what we need in order to move the university community to start a dialogue and become engaged with each other and society.
In our view, this issue concerning the Ublad is one out of many attempts to transform the University into a company where the Board and her professional managers have their way at the expense of democracy, quality, diversity and scientific integrity. These core values which the University must represent, should be reflected in the way the University is governed. In fact, the University should be directly governed by the University community itself, instead of a non-democratically chosen clique.
Our concerns are not limited to Utrecht, because we are faced with drastic nationwide reforms such as the budget cuts on education, the possible cutting of student grants, the implementation of BSA (Binding Study Advice), and our minister of Education’s neglect to defend the proposition for a ‘student assessor’(a student in the Board of Directors). The position of the University and education in society is too important to be left up to and controlled by market mechanisms. This global process is negatively affecting education worldwide and has to be stopped immediately!
In Europe and the rest of the world, protests against this process are visible evidenced by the almost hundred occupations and mass demonstrations in the Global Week of Action in November 2009. Now it’s our turn and we demand the following:
* The Ublad in its current paper format with an independent editor must be permanently secured by the Board of Directors of the University of Utrecht.
* The U-raad of the University of Utrecht has the right to demand binding referenda, facilitated by the University of Utrecht, for issues they consider important. This will be recorded in the statutes.
* The U-raad of the University of Utrecht will get a direct voice in all decisions made by the Board of Directors of the University of Utrecht by a right to a fixed vote by U-raad majority and a veto right in case of unanimity of the U-raad.
* All participants and others involved in the occupation of the University of Utrecht on the 1st of February 2010 will be exempted from all charges, now and in the future, by the University of Utrecht and other parties and may leave the occupied building and terrain without involvement of other parties.
* The current minister of Education, Culture and Science, Mr. Ronald Plasterk, will publically offer his apologies to the Dutch people for the deterioration of education during his watch.
* The cabinet will publicly announce to stop the budget cuts and ensure more investment in higher education per capita.
Our duty as student activists will not be over until we are heard and our demands are met. Therefore, we encourage all students, teachers and parents to resist the structural deterioration of our education and take a stand for decent public education that everyone is entitled to. Save our education!
We gratefully acknowledge receipt of this news from the edufactory mailing list:
For an overview of education-related protests worldwide in 2009, go here.