Executive board working on ‘integral plan of action’ for social safety on campus
The scandals surrounding social safety at Radboud University have been piling up rapidly over the past weeks. For this reason, the university hired ‘external specialists’ to thoroughly look at social safety on campus. There should be a plan of action before the end of the calendar year.
Radboud University is a ‘toxic, unsafe workspace for a lot of women’, in which ‘sexual intimidation has plenty of space.’ This was written in De Gelderlander last Saturday, after journalists talked to dozens of employees.
In that same article, it is written that a professor of the field of Cultural Anthropology and Development studies has created an unsafe work environment in his department for the past ten years. After being reported, the man is said to have resigned from part of his work as supervisor. However, afterwards the department became ‘rudderless’ and the work environment remained unsafe. This was written in a confidential report by investigation bureau Berenschot, which was released this year and is in possession of De Gelderlander.
The faculty board at the time was aware of the chaos, but refused to intercept, according to the newspaper. The problems remained unsolved. Because of that, the unsafe work environment endured.
The case of Cultural Anthropology and Development studies is the next chapter in a growing file on social safety at the university. In September, Argos revealed that a psychology professor stalked a student by sending unwanted messages, after which she ended up with a burn-out. After receiving new signals and notifications, the faculty announced a new, independent investigation of the professor. This was followed more than a week later by the news of Han van Krieken’s resignation, after De Gelderlander revealed a well-grounded complaint of sexual intimidation.
‘It has become painfully clear that Radboud University is not or has not been a safe place for all employees and students’, the two-headed executive board wrote last Saturday on the University website, in a response to the revelations. The board explicitly states that a socially safe environment is essential for students and employees. ‘This is a precondition for high-quality education and research, as well as for effective collaboration’
‘What really matters at this stage is that we embody this code and adhere to it in our day-to-day interactions’
In their response, the board points out the ‘process of change’ that the university is undertaking. Among other things, this resulted in the code of conduct, which was introduced last year. ‘[What] really matters at this stage is that we embody this code and adhere to it in our day-to-day interactions’, as stated by the board.
Due to the revelations, the university wants to take a thorough look at the report- and complaint procedures. Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences, Evelyn Kroesbergen, said that she is now more aware of how to sound the alarm, after the Argos broadcast on the unacceptable behavior of the psychology professor. It is not known as of now whether the university wants to make specific changes, or what those changes may look like.
However, the university also wants to take a broader view and have a good look at the entire process of change; external specialists were hired for this purpose. There should be a plan of action by the end of the calendar year.
The ministry of Education has asked government commissioner Mariëtte Hamer to investigate sexually inappropriate behaviour at universities; she made the student pact earlier this year. With this pact, student associations and organisations promised that they would do more to battle sexually inappropriate behaviour.
Translated by Lara Nijhof