Students and staff are allowed to protest in UG buildings. But, says the uni, protesters must be willing to talk and abide by house rules.
The Academy building was occupied twice in the first half of last year. The last one – on April 25 – ended in a heavy-handed eviction by the police when the protesters refused to leave the building.
It’s a national trend, argues the UG, which other universities are also facing. And that is why the university administration has drawn up guidelines on how to deal with demonstrations, based on those of umbrella organisation Universities of the Netherlands (UNL).
‘Past occupations have shown that people often do not know the house rules’, Hans Biemans of the board of directors said this week in the university council’s committee meeting. ‘So we want to make it clear how we’re supposed treat each other.’
The UG formally has nothing to do with demonstrations outside its buildings, such as at the Broerplein, right outside the Academy building. If a demonstration does cause disruption, the UG will contact the police, who will then decide what to do.
But the UG is responsible for what happens inside the university buildings. Here too, says the university, demonstrations or occupation is allowed. The university is also willing to accept some form of inconvenience, but protesters must leave before 7 p.m.
From now on, house rules will be handed out to participants at the beginning of an occupation. Among other things, protesters must be willing to engage in conversation with the university. Violence and intimidation are strictly prohibited. Normal operations must be allowed to go on as usual, and protesters are not allowed cause damage or consume alcohol and drugs.
Interestingly, video recording is banned. On and after April 25 last year, videos of the police evacuation caused much criticism and unrest. Making ‘anonymous expressions’ is also banned. ‘Why though?’ wondered council member Manuel Reyes with the personnel faction.
There were other critical comments from the university council. Reyes questioned the obligation to engage in conversation with the university. What if people want to make a statement to the academic community? Or just want to draw attention to a particular issue?
Zulima Martí Cuñat of student party Lijst Calimero argues that the rules are wonderful. And the idea of handing them out is ‘very clever’, but that no one should expect them to actually be followed.