Participational bodies critical of restrictions on right to protest: ‘This has gone too far’

25 Jun 2024

The restrictions imposed on the right to protest on campus are too far-reaching and lead to confusion. This was said by members of the participational bodies to the Executive Board, in an extra Joint Assembly this afternoon. Rector Magnificus José Sanders stated: ‘We will see if the mayor thinks the time is ripe to let go of the restrictions.’

The most important point on the agenda for the extra Joint Assembly meeting involved the restrictions imposed on the right to protest on campus. As of two weeks ago, protests on campus are only allowed on parking lot A7, next to the roundabout on the Heyendaalseweg. That restriction was imposed by mayor Hubert Bruls; a decision that has raised a lot of questions. Associate Professor of Constitutional Law Rian de Jong spoke on the issue with Vox earlier.

Removing posters

Works Council member Juliette Alenda-Demoutiez remarked that the mayor’s decision has caused a lot of confusion. ‘First, protesters were told by security personnel that they weren’t allowed to hand out flyers, then the next day it suddenly was allowed.’ Demoutiez went on to say that one of the security staff asked employees at the Faculty of Social Sciences to take down posters. ‘These restrictions conflict with our academic freedom.’

The idea that the new restrictions led to ambiguity among security staff and police was also evident at a short meeting of pro-Palestine protesters in the Erasmus building.

Vice Chair Agnes Muskens replied that the right to protest is a good cause, but that its restriction is a direct consequence of the occupation of TvA 1 and the vandalism and destruction throughout the building. ‘The safety of all employees and students is important to the Executive Board; we represent the entire academic community’, according to Muskens, who went on to ask for understanding for the security interventions. ‘This is a new situation to them as well; they’re not used to making these kinds of decisions.’

Letting go

Speaking on behalf of the University Student Council, Rebecca Eijden stated that, while the destruction of TvA 1 was a step too far, it pales in comparison to the restrictions imposed on the right to protest. ‘The restrictions go too far. I think it’s disappointing that you claim to support the mayor’s decision, and that the protesters are relegated to a space where they are neither seen nor heard.’

‘I think it’s disappointing that you claim to support the mayor’s decision’

Rector José Sanders emphasised that she understood the restrictions imposed by the mayor, considering that the actions taken by the protesters have caused damage and disrupted education and research. However, she did indicate her awareness of the severity of the restrictions. ‘Now, we will see if the mayor thinks the time is right to let go of the restrictions.’


Earlier in the meeting, an open letter by fifteen Dutch rectors was addressed. In said letter, published in Trouw, the rectors stated their refusal to categorically cut off ties with Israeli institutions. According to members of the participational bodies, that open letter caused a great deal of confusion among staff and students, because its message seemed to run counter to earlier policy announced by Radboud University.

Sanders admitted that, due to significant revisions, the letter was not as clear as it should have been. ‘What we wrote in the letter was that we do not want to categorically cut ties with any country, unless the government requests it. That does not mean we are unwilling to cut ties, as reported by some media (including NOS and Vox, eds.).

Internal communication

The rector once again made reference to the advisory committee, set to weigh international cooperative ties. ‘That committee must be established before the start of the new academic year’, according to Sanders. Additionally, the Nijmegen Executive Board will attempt to enter talks with Israeli partners, but they have as of yet been unable to schedule a meeting.

‘Our internal communication should have been better’

Members of the participational bodies are saddened by the fact that they were not informed of the letter beforehand. Likewise, there was no email sent out to employees and students. ‘We should have been clearer regarding the letter’s relation to our earlier communication (about the advisory committee, eds.), Sanders admitted. ‘Our internal communication should have been better.’

Discussion with the dean

Finally, the meeting addressed the decision by the departments of Human Geography and Environmental Governance to no longer support cooperations with Israeli institutions. There have yet to be discussions between the departments and the Executive Board. ‘I assume that the dean will enter discussions with the departments on this subject’, as stated by Sanders. ‘If we manage to meet with one of our Israeli partners, we will also raise the issue there.’

Translated by Jasper Pesch

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