Arts dean booed by protesters over Donya Ahmadi case

Faculty of Arts dean Thony Visser was booed during a social safety demonstration in front of the Academy building on Friday afternoon over what protesters perceive as the UG’s lack of support for arts lecturer Donya Ahmadi.

The International Women’s Day demonstration, which was attended by approximately a hundred people, had the case of Ahmadi at its forefront. She was recently accused of libel and slander by an Iranian man whose name she published in a peer-reviewed article as an example of a sexual perpetrator. 

The protesters were demanding the UG show more support in her case, as well as take concrete measures to protect her safety. Volunteers were walking around asking for signatures on a petition to that end. 

Open mic

Visser took the floor in the open mic session of the demonstration to respond. ‘There are a lot more women in academia now than when I entered the field. But there is still a lot of work to do and we need you to help us with that’, she started her speech. 

‘I’ve read your demands and petitions, but I’d have liked so much better to speak with you, than to you, to have a conversation’, she said. ‘My door is always open. Please come and talk’, she added. 

‘Not enough’

The dean also stressed that people within the UG were working hard to support and protect Ahmadi. ‘You’re never going to meet those people and that’s okay. But many of them helped her, and are still doing their best to guarantee her safety’, she explained.

Her speech, however, was met with a collective booing from the crowd, followed by some people chanting ‘It’s not enough’. A man in the crowd then wanted to know what the dean planned to do about ‘these structural problems within the UG’. However, by then Visser had already left the stage.

UPDATE 11/03: Visser expressed a desire to respond to the question, according to UG spokesperson Anja Hulshof. However, the organisation decided to continue with the programme.

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