More than 350 Radboud employees express solidarity with demonstrating students

23 May 2024

OPINION - In an open letter, employees of Radboud University express their support for the demands of the students, who have been protesting since last week against ties with Israel. The authors also want the Executive Board to continue respecting the freedom of demonstration. The letter has already been signed by 381 employees.

We, employees of Radboud University, support and declare our solidarity with the student camp that has been occupying the grounds in front of the Maria Montessori building since Monday, May 13, 2024. Through this letter we would like to express our support for the students’ demands as well as for their fundamental right to demonstrate.

Immeasurable human suffering

Gaza is the scene of immeasurable human suffering, ecocide and material destruction. The International Court of Justice ruled on 26 January 2024 that it is “plausible” that Israel is violating the Genocide Convention in Gaza. It is by now likely that Israel is carrying out genocide against the Palestinian people in Gaza. In the West Bank too, Palestinians are being oppressed and humiliated by the Israeli army and state-backed settlers. In Israel, critical voices and media are increasingly stifled. The Netanyahu government turns a blind eye to international criticism.

‘By now, all 12 universities and higher education institutions in the Gaza Strip have been destroyed’

As Israeli researcher Dr Maya Wind demonstrates in her book Towers of Ivory and Steel. How Israeli Universities Deny Palestinian Freedom (2024), Israeli academic institutions have long been institutionally involved in the oppression of the Palestinian people. They are intertwined across the board with the Israeli state apparatus, defence industry, and cultural infrastructure that make this possible. This includes not only military-technological research and involvement with security forces and the army, but also archaeological and humanities research that erases Palestinian identity and stifles critical Palestinian as well as Israeli voices.

By now, all 12 universities and higher education institutions in the Gaza Strip have been destroyed. Numerous Palestinian academics and students, and their families, have been injured or killed. Education for children or students is no longer possible in Gaza. This structural destruction of the educational system has also been referred to as ‘scholasticide’.

Since May 13, 2024, Radboud University students have been staying on campus to protest the ties that our university maintains with Israeli universities. They demand full disclosure of these ties, and an end to them, as long as the genocide in Gaza continues and Israeli universities continue their involvement in the oppression of Palestinians. They also want our university to condemn the genocide in Gaza in undisguised terms, as it does the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

‘The right to demonstrate is under pressure in the Netherlands, especially at universities’

As employees of Radboud University, we express our emphatic support for the cause of these protesting students. We ask the Executive Board to honour their demands. Among others, 76 Spanish universities, Ghent University, the Royal Academy of Arts in The Hague, the Hogeschool Rotterdam, and the Designacademie Eindhoven have already severed their ties with Israeli higher education institutions.

Right to demonstrate

Through this letter we would also like to express our unqualified support for the right of our students to demonstrate. We are shocked by the violence that was used to repress student protests around the world. We also condemn the choices the university administrations in Amsterdam and Utrecht have made in this regard. The right to demonstrate is under pressure in the Netherlands, especially at universities. The new directive on protesting published by Universities of the Netherlands (UNL) on May 14 is a far-reaching attempt to further restrict the right to protest. We would therefore urge you not to adopt this directive. Last year, our university advertised with the slogans “you have a part to play” and “you are needed.” With these slogans, Radboud University aims to promote its mission of socially relevant, values-driven research. Further restricting students’ right to demonstrate would be diametrically opposed to this mission.

De sit-in in het Maria Montessorigebouw. Foto: Johannes Fiebig

Finally, we call on all our colleagues to support in word and deed the demands of our students for the severing of ties with Israeli universities and a condemnation by Radboud University of the genocide in Gaza. Talk about the protest with your colleagues. Engage with protesting students. Give the protest camp financial or material support. And help students combine their engagement with their studies by being flexible about attendance, deadlines and other study-related obligations. Finally, join the student protest, such as during the “walk-outs” that students regularly organize. In this time of genocide and increasing curtailment of the right to protest, it is our students who are leading by example. As teachers and members of the academic community, we owe it to them to support them in this.

The list of signatories below will be updated later.

Great that you are reading Vox! Do you want to stay up to date on all university news?

Thanks for adding the vox-app!

1 Comment

  1. organisation open letter wrote on 23 mei 2024 at 12:30

    The list of signatures will be updated tomorrow. Are you a RU staff member and would you also like to support this initiative? Please send an email, with your name and function/department to: [email protected]

Leave a comment

Vox Magazine

Independent magazine of Radboud University

read the latest Vox online!

Vox Update

A direct, daily or weekly update with our articles in your mailbox!