Radboud philosopher to leave position due to ‘transgressive behaviour of colleagues’
Philosopher Fleur Jongepier is leaving Radboud University. On her Twitter feed, she states that her reason for leaving is the transgressive behaviour of several colleagues, as well as academia’s handling of the situation.
As of last week, ethicist Fleur Jongepier has stepped down from her position as academic at Radboud University. Her reason for doing so is the ‘transgressive behaviour of (former) colleagues, both inside and outside the faculty.’ On Twitter, she talks about ‘remorseless assholes’ who ‘manipulated, intimidated, and blackmailed’ when certain things came to light.
According to her Twitter thread, Jongepier made the decision to leave Radboud around the summer. She was awarded the Veni grant in 2019 for her research into smart algorithms (for which she won the Heineken Young Scientist Award earlier this year, ed.), which she initially wanted to use at a different university ‘because the idea of returning to campus gave me a stomach-ache.’
However, Jongepier decided she lacked the motivation and the trust to start over at a different university, so she has resolved to bid farewell to academia altogether, according to her Twitter.
A list of accusations
Jongepier has a lengthy list of accusations, which, she emphasizes, do not just concern Radboud University, but other universities as well. She writes about ‘bystanders who did nothing, even after receiving complaints’, ‘incompetent confidential advisors, as well as ‘competent advisors who were kept out of the loop.’ In another tweet, she mentions that people who spoke up about the issues ‘were strongly encouraged to stay silent’ or even ‘silenced outright.’
‘Whistle-blowers were strongly encouraged to stay silent’
Jongepier worked at the Faculty of Philosophy, Theology and Religious Studies, where the executive board ordered an investigation of social security and behaviour within the faculty in 2020. One of the results of that investigation was that Paul Bakker, who was in the running to succeed Cristoph Lüthy as dean, would no longer be considered for the position. Professor Bakker was allegedly guilty of ‘inappropriate actions’, but the board has yet to elaborate on what those entailed.
A follow-up investigation by consultancy firm Berenschot showed that multiple faculty employees felt unsafe in their place of work. Almost 30 people reported intimidating or sexist remarks, as well as inappropriate relations among students and between students and lecturers. The reported incidents took place over a period of 15 years. Since the investigation, the faculty has started a training course on appropriate work culture.
Channeling positive energy
Jongepier declined to comment to Vox regarding her tweets. She indicated that she wanted to ‘channel her energy in a more positive way.’
On Twitter, she writes: ‘In the end, I didn’t leave because of transgressive individuals, but because of the manner in which academia handled the situation.’ Additionally: ‘Of course, it’s scary to leave behind a steady job, good salary, clear career plan, and even status and the additional bells and whistles. It involved a long and hard decision-making process. But it’s also incredibly liberating.’
The now former scientist is currently working on a philosophy book, to be published by De Bezige Bij. She is also a columnist for de Volkskrant, as well as a reviewer for Trouw.
Faculty saddened by departure Jongepier
Heleen Murre-van den Berg, dean of the Faculty of Philosophy, Theology and Religious Studies, calls it ‘a pity that Fleur Jongepier has decided to pursue a career outside academia, for the reasons given on her Twitter page.’ The dean goes on to say that Jongepier will be missed, and that she delivered a valuable contribution to science, research, and debate, both inside and outside the faculty.
Murre-van den Berg states that she cannot elaborate on the accusations made by Jongepier. ‘But it is clear that, despite our efforts to create a safe and sociable work- and study environment, our work at the both the faculty and the university is far from finished’, according to the dean. She promises that the faculty will work hard in the next few years to create a safe work and study environment. ‘Finally, I want to emphasize that any employee or student who has witnessed something inappropriate – or who thinks they have – can talk about it with the university’s confidential advisors.’
Translated by Jasper Pesch.