Should GNSV have been allowed at the intro market?

06 Sep 2023

Are all opinions welcome at the university? Rector Han van Krieken and political philosopher Mathijs van de Sande will be debating that question tomorrow in a current affairs lecture of Radboud Reflects. ‘Does GNSV’s admission to the intro market align with Radboud University’s mission statement?’

The fight at the intro market was the subject of much discussion; several people were hurt in a struggle between members of Actiegroep Nijmegen and the Groot-Nederlandse Studentenvereniging (GNSV).

The GNSV presents itself as a conservative-nationalist association. However, Willemijn Kadijk of research bureau NTA told Vox that the association ‘contains a lot of extreme right-wing elements.’

Tomorrow, rector Han van Krieken and political philosopher Mathijs van de Sande will be participating in a current affairs lecture of Radboud Reflects in the Lecture hall complex. They will be discussing the question of whether all opinions are welcome at the university.


Martijn van de Sande chooses not to discuss the exact nature of the events at the intro market. ‘Several stories are making the rounds; someone else will need to ascertain the truth of the matter’, he said in a meeting room on campus.

Van Krieken revisited the matter briefly at the opening of the academic year. According to the rector, there is no room for violence in a safe environment. However, the limits to free speech should also be respected.

‘Violence need not always be physical’

‘Violence being a bad thing is a no-brainer’, according to Van de Sande. ‘But violence need not always be physical. Spreading extreme right-wing ideology can be interpreted by some as violent as well.’

Academic interest

Van de Sande is more interested in the question of whether an organisation like GNSV should have even been granted a place at the intro market. A spokesperson for the Executive Board stated that GNSV were welcome, because the intro market ‘offered room for a diversity of opinions and perspectives.’

But according to Van de Sande that is not really the issue. ‘Of course, we have freedom of speech – whether you’re at university, in the pool, or in the supermarket – but what makes the university special is academic freedom.’

Mathijs van de Sande. Photo: Ted van Aanholt / Trouw.

The political philosopher thinks it’s important that university students can encounter different worldviews. However, he does not think that means anyone should be allowed to pass out flyers at the intro market. ‘Organisations such as Martijn (which advocated the acceptance of sexual relations between children and adults, ed.) or Hezbollah (a militant movement of Shia Muslims, ed.) would not have been granted a place at the intro market either. As students and scientists, we are here to understand the world in all its complexity, but we do so out of academic interest. In that context, not every opinion is legitimate or relevant.’

Tomorrow, Van de Sande aims to remind the rector of the university’s mission statement. ‘The university claims to be diverse and inclusive, and that they wish to contribute to a society with equal opportunities for all’, Van de Sande says. ‘This implies a level of societal engagement, which gives room to marginalised groups. But if the university emphasises its emancipatory roots, they cannot simultaneously offer space to people that wish to take rights away from those marginalised groups.’

Dog whistle

But on what basis can a student association be forbidden from attending the intro market? GNSV’s website does not offer a lot of information about the association. ‘For those unfamiliar with extreme right-wing terminology or aesthetics, the GNSV may not appear to be a fascist organisation’, Van de Sande says. ‘But they do use certain terms that have specific connotations within that sphere.’

‘I think it’s naïve that the university gave this group a platform to organise and recruit members’

The philosopher refers specifically to the Greater Netherlands philosophy that the association supports. ‘It’s a dog whistle; people from extreme right-wing environments know exactly what is meant. Not only that, the GNSV cooperates with the Geuzenbond, an openly fascist and extreme right-wing organisation, as well as with the Flemish NSV!, which is a breeding pool for extreme right-wing politicians. I think it’s naïve that the university gave this group a platform to organise and recruit members. It sends a certain signal.’

Translated by Jasper Pesch

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