Participational bodies plead for culture change after resignation rector
The members of the university’s participational bodies support Han van Krieken’s decision to step down before the university’s centenary. However, they also feel that more needs to be done. ‘We need to rid ourselves of a culture involving secrecy and cover-ups.’
‘A good first step’, says Amarins Thiecke, chair of the Works Council (OR), referring to Rector Magnificus Han van Krieken’s early resignation. ‘It’s good that he realised that he could no longer be the face for the university during the festivities.’ According to chair Jasmijn de Groot, the University Student Council (USR) agrees, stating that Van Krieken made the right decision.
‘We mainly take issue with the secrecy’
Even so, neither the OR nor the USR debated the rector’s performance, who prematurely resigned yesterday after De Gelderlander reported on a case of sexually transgressive behaviour. ‘The complaint was investigated and handled internally, after which the recommendations made were followed by the university. We will not comment further on that; this matter should not devolve into a witch hunt for Han van Krieken. We mainly take issue with the secrecy’, as stated by De Groot.
The complaint that was filed against Van Krieken, and subsequently declared valid, was made in 2018. The rector made comments towards a female employee in 2017, which could be experienced as sexually intimidating. At the time, neither the Executive Board nor the Supervisory Board publicly reported on the incident that culminated in a settlement agreement with the woman in question.
Members of the USR and the OR, which together make up the participational bodies, emphasize that more needs to be done when it comes to social safety. Both councils sent letters to the Executive Board in which they called for a change in culture. Vox was able to view the letters, which broadly state that the Executive Board should do more when it comes to both social safety and transparency.
‘The participational bodies were kept completely out of the loop; that is unacceptable’
‘The university insists on the reporting of transgressive behaviour’, according to Thiecke. ‘But it is high time that they not only take a more proactive, preventative stance to create a safer campus for everybody, but also that they are more transparent in doing so.
The USR completely agrees, according to chair de Groot. ‘The complaint made against Van Krieken was kept quiet by the university, through its exclusion from 2018’s annual report. It wasn’t until years later that the complaint was printed in another annual report, billed as a conflict between two employees. And therein lies the rub: that phrasing does not make clear the power structures involved, leading to a lack of transparency. The participational bodies were kept completely out of the loop; that is unacceptable.’
Are the participational bodies still confident in the performance of the remainder of the Executive Board? ‘That is not what we’re concerned with. We are not the House of Representatives; we can’t issue a vote of no confidence in the government’, according to Thiecke. ‘We would much rather focus on a change in culture. The issue is much bigger than this one incident. We need to rid ourselves of the appearance of secrecy and cover-ups.’