FBSS brings in mediator

According to its faculty board, there is insufficient support for the relocation plans at the Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences (BSS). They have engaged a mediator to put an end to the impasse.
By Peter Keizer / Translation by Sarah van Steenderen

That decision was shared by dean Kees Aarts in a letter to staff and students in the faculty council last week. The faculty board has asked Willem Koops, professor emeritus of developmental psychology and former dean of the University of Utrecht, to mediate between the faculty board and the department of psychology, which is heavily resisting the relocation plans.

Because the lease on the temporary lecture rooms at the Bloemstraat is up in September, the faculty board wants the offices in the Heymans wing to make way for new lecture rooms. But students and staff are protesting the plans. They worry that departments will be split up on different floors and that the move will lead to more evening classes and less room for individual student supervision, among other things. They also feel that their criticism has not been taken seriously enough and that the faculty board has failed to consider alternative locations.


According to the faculty board, the relocation plans cannot be implemented in a timely fashion because of lack of support. ‘Any relocation plan rests on the cooperation of the people involved, and that appears to still be lacking’, Aarts writes to the faculty council.

‘We have tried to prove that this lack of support is based, in part, on incorrect assumptions concerning the contents and execution of the relocation plan. However, this has not resulted in restoring that support’, he concludes.

The faculty board has asked the Board of Directors and the VGI, the RUG’s real estate department, to see whether moving the lecture rooms can be ‘delayed’.


University Council member Casper Albers, one of the employees protesting the relocation plans, thinks an extension on the relocation and bringing in a mediator is a good thing. However, he is not as happy with Aarts’ letter. According to him, the faculty board is unfairly suggesting in the letter that the faculty council and the University Council have obstructed the search for alternative locations.

‘And that’s not true’, says Albers. ‘They’ve been allowed to research this for a year. They’re the ones who keep stalling and waiting until the last possible moment. And then they use that to pressure the various departments, under the pretext that they really need us to cooperate because there’s no time left for a different plan.’

According to Albers, many employees are upset that ‘false arguments and misrepresentation of the facts’ are being used to pressure personnel. ‘Alternative suggestions are summarily dismissed, and the next thing you know, we’re being blamed for not helping them brainstorm. I think the mediator has his work cut out for him if he wants to bring the faculty board and the staff closer together’, he says.

The matter will be discussed during a faculty council meeting on Tuesday.


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