Personnel faction: statement on zero tolerance should be more specific

Casper Albers with the personnel faction on the university council says that the RUG’s statement on zero tolerance should be more specific and defined.
By Rob Siebelink / Photo by Piter Siebenga / Translation by Sarah van Steenderen

‘Any allegation of harassment, hate crime, bullying or victimization will be treated seriously, regardless of the seniority of those involved. Anyone found to have behaved unacceptably may be the subject of disciplinary action’, the statement says.

The personnel faction was happy with the statement, but it’s not specific enough, says Albers. He then referred to the case of a professor at the UvA, who has been accused of abuse of power and misconduct, but who was able to keep working while his colleagues and superiors were aware of his behaviour.

‘The statement mentions sanctions. Do these only apply to the perpetrators, or can we also sanction the people who neglected to act when they should have?’ Albers asked.


The only really specific thing in the statement, the faction says, is the request toward victims to take action. But Albers says that it wouldn’t be fair to put the ball only in victims’ courts.

‘Thanks to many brave women and their #MeToo stories in academia, people have finally realised that something should be done. But it’s the academic community that should step up: we should all make sure that the university is a safe work environment, and not only ask the victims to speak up.’


According the Albers, the policy focuses too much on what should be done after transgressive behaviours have taken place. He thinks the university should also focus on preventative action.

‘If something like this happens as much as it does – and the things we know about are only the tip of the iceberg, really – it’s no longer an incidental issue, it’s structural. Over the past few years, we’ve already discussed the cultural change needed at student associations due to the many issues during the hazing period.’

That cultural change is important for the RUG as well, says Albers. ‘We are a team, and this is our joint responsibility. We have to ensure a safe work environment. Inclusivity isn’t just a choice; it’s a requirement.’


The board of directors say they’re still working on ‘making the statement more specific’. Board president Jouke de Vries says it’s too early to instate an ombudsman, something the personnel faction suggested as well.

The RUG has a confidential adviser and that’s working for people, although De Vries does acknowledge they have less power than an ombudsman would. De Vries wants to wait and see what happens with pilot programmes at other universities. ‘After that, we’ll thoroughly explore the option.’

The full statement can be read here.


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