White smoke: Radboud University has its own code of conduct

04 Jul 2022

After a year of much discussion, Radboud University has a university code of conduct. At the last Joint Assembly of the academic year, there was no new major discussion. The new code of conduct will become active in the coming academic year.

At the last Joint Assembly of the academic year, which took place this afternoon in the Senate Room of the university, the Works Council had no more comments on the draft code of conduct of the Executive Board. This brings an end to a discussion that lasted almost the entire academic year.

The new code of conduct become active as of the new academic year and will be evaluated annually. The intention is for the document to be posted on the university’s website as soon as possible.

‘Broad support’

There wasn’t much excitement left this afternoon. In committee meetings prior to the Joint Assembly, the most important decisions had already been made. ‘We have discussed this extensively in the past period’, said a visibly satisfied Vice-President Agnes Muskens. ‘I am very pleased with where we are now.’

‘We look forward to start living by the code of conduct’

Chair of the Executive Board Daniël Wigboldus also thanked the members of the employee participation body for their cooperation. ‘As the Executive Board we have always said: a code of conduct must have broad support. We look forward to adopting the code of conduct and start living by it.’

Sexual harassment

The aim of the Code of Conduct on Integrity is to improve the work culture at Radboud University. The code, which applies to all Radboud University staff – including student assistants, interns, and temporary staff – defines what is meant by integrity and what conduct is and is not appropriate. The code of conduct also includes regulations on the use of alcohol and drugs as well as regulations on social media.

The description of the relationship between lecturers and students, among others, has been the subject of discussion in recent months. The code of conduct states that private relationships between lecturers and students “are prohibited for the duration of the professional relationship”. Teachers must “avoid personal contacts with individual students in which they could create the appearance of (sexual) harassment or abuse of power or which, at the time or afterwards, could be interpreted as such”. If it does happen, the employee is obliged to report it to their supervisor. The employee then looks at possible risks and solutions together with their supervisor.

The relationship between supervisors and PhD students has also long been a subject of discussion between members of the Works Council and the Executive Board. The code of conduct now states that “for the duration of the doctoral study programme, a personal relationship between doctoral candidate and supervisor is undesirable”.

Tim Hofman

The code of conduct puts an end to a year of discussion. In a letter sent at the beginning of June, the University Student Council (USR) called on the Executive Board and the Works Council to hasten the introduction of a code of conduct. In the letter, the student council members wrote that they missed a sense of urgency.

A week earlier, during a Q&A at Radboud Rocks, Tim Hofman also reacted very surprised about the fact that Radboud University did not have a code of conduct yet. ‘That means that you don’t instruct the person in power how not to abuse his power’, the journalist and presenter said on a packed Pieter Bondam square. He called on students to send an e-mail to the rector about the issue. Eight students answered Hofman’s appeal.

The University Code of Conduct is long overdue. In November last year, a first version of the code of conduct was submitted to the Works Council for approval, but the Works Council sent the Executive Board back to the drawing board. An amended version in April again drew a lot of criticism, after which the introduction was postponed.

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