UG can fire social safety expert Susanne Täuber, protest at Broerplein (UPDATE)

The UG can fire social safety expert Susanne Täuber. She announced the judge’s verdict herself on Wednesday afternoon during a protest rally that was in part meant to support her.

The case went to court a few weeks ago. Täuber says her dismissal is a signal from the university to the academic community about what can happen if you speak up.

In a speech on the steps of the Academy building, she urged the dozens of protesters (both staff and students of the UG) to continue their fight against intimidation and social unsafety. ‘This is a hurdle race.’

Susanne Täuber addresses RUG staff and students from the steps of the Academy Building. Photo: Zuzana Ľudvikova

‘It’s not even about me’, she told UKrant. ‘I feel worse for the people who are here today, and for my students.’ She says it’s ironic she’s being fired on International Women’s Day. ‘Can you believe it?’


People have also been protesting on Twitter these past few days. Staff and students of the UG shared their concerns using the hashtag #AmINext. The student strike on Wednesday, which is also International Women’s Day, was also related to the Täuber issue.

The university doesn’t want to react to the verdict. ‘We have heard as well that the employment agreement is being terminated’, says UG spokesperson Anja Hulshof. ‘We haven’t read the verdict ourselves yet.’

She declined to comment further on the matter. ‘The judge has spoken and we won’t go into personal matters.’

Damaged working relationship

The university wants to fire Täuber because of a damaged working relationship, claiming that the social safety expert is difficult to work with.

Täuber says she was discriminated against when it came to promotions and that the Faculty of Economics and Business wants to silence her after she published several critical articles. Earlier, she revealed how the Rosalind Franklin programme at the UG, which aims at improving women’s position at the university, actually works against women in some cases.


Solidarity with Susanne, says professor of bacterial cell biology Dirk-Jan Scheffers, who works at the Faculty of Science and Engineering. ‘I know Susanne Täuber as a very good, hard-working and devoted colleague from […] work on the university council.’

‘Should I be afraid to lose my job for speaking out against discrimination, harassment, and unacceptable behaviour?’ asks Leonie de Jonge, a well-known researcher of extreme-right ideologies at the arts department. 

Campus Fryslân researcher Efe Cengiz says the UG has a problem with inappropriate behaviour. ‘Someone will be next’, he warns. ‘Who will look out for us if we don’t look out for each other?’

Steven Arisz with the University of Amsterdam points out that the report from the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences on social safety recommends universities employ academics with expert knowledge on the subject. ‘If anyone possesses that knowledge, it’s Susanne Täuber. For that reason alone, the UG shouldn’t fire her.’

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  1. I find the following points in the court ruling highly disturbing and problematic. They raise questions that are too serious to be left unaddressed.

    Quotes from the court ruling (translated into English):

    5.8.”The subdistrict court considers that after the publication of the essay in the Journal of Management Studies, the employment relationship has become further and seriously disrupted. The subdistrict court judge attributes this largely to the RUG.”

    5.13.“Taking everything into consideration, the subdistrict court is of the opinion that both parties can be blamed for the disturbed employment relationship, but that the RUG, in the person of [fellow defendant, NB: professor FEB], among others, has played an important, if not a decisive role in the development of the seriously disrupted employment relationship.”

    5.14. “According to [defendant], there is a causal connection between her essay and the request for dissolution, as a result of which the RUG infringes the right of free expression. However, the subdistrict court will leave open in the context of this request for dissolution whether there is a causal connection and if so, whether the request for dissolution constitutes an unjustified infringement of freedom of expression.”

  2. People rarely get fired from universities. For something like that to happen, a very serious charge needs to be made, supported by extensive evidence and so far we have been given none of that in the Tauber case. In the last years, the few examples of firing included a colleague who mishandled finances and a colleague who spread conspiracy theories in class. On the other hand, all sorts of people stay on – from those who do little to no work, to those who people behave inappropriately, bully or mob others, or have a history of sexual or other forms misconduct – often they get reprimanded only, and at best they might get suspended. So what exactly is Tauber being fired for? We still don’t know. Poor working relations? What does that even mean? We are still waiting to hear from the Faculty and the UG, but they remain silent. The fact that the Faculty and University are showing 0 interest in engaging with this is not only working against them, it shows they are completely out of touch and unable to handle dissenting voices and conflict in a constructive way. Truly disappointing.

  3. I saw today brave people taking the stage. Students as well as staff members. All of them standing in front of a crowd telling about horrifying experiences and painting a gruesome reality: of rape, harassment, bullying, discrimination, all happening at the University of Groningen. I saw brave ‘Alice’ sharing an excruciating story of sexual abuse, I saw Susanne Täuber as a powerful leader who – through her work and research – has been paving the way for such stories of abuse and harassment to even come out to the surface, at the cost of her dismissal by the institution. I saw tears, I saw hugs, I saw human beings cheering each other on – humanity at its best and in its rawest form.

    I saw the rector of the University of Groningen behind barred doors and windows in the Academy building, looking at and listening to what was happening outside; looking at those sharing stories of abuse, hearing students talk about rape at an institution she has been presiding over. I do not understand. From one human being to another, I do not understand. I have found that image too hard to take in, too painful, too terrifying, frightening and shocking, – but not surprising.

    Will I be next?

  4. I could never support her because I do not know exactly what went wrong between her and her supervisors. I am only aware of the details she has published in her pamphlet in JMS and what UK published (mainly repeating her claims). Bottom line, I have only heard 1 side of the story so far and, to be honest, what I read in JMS looked more like a bitter rant of a biased person against The Netherlands and against her bosses (the RUG) than an academic study on the problem of gender inequality at the RUG.

    • Wow, what a sexist comment. I encourage you to present the other side of the “story” and sign it with your name.

    • It is not difficult to use your brain to logically think “Why the otherside is not opening his mouth if he is right?”, somy advise if you don’t know what is going on then don’t give your input.

      • I imagine your brain is not capable yet to distinguish the difference between facts and suppositions/opinions. Please enlighten us, if someone falsely accuses some other person/institution of something and the former does not publicly make a circus about it, that makes him/her/it guilty?

        • An accusation of discrimination can only be labeled as false after thorough investigation by an unbiased party. There has been no mention or documentation of such an investigation in this case. The professors involved simply denied the accusation. Just like in the case of Sujatha de Poel, there was no investigation no scientific method, no legal method. Of course the lack of investigation makes it harder to prove that Täuber (or the Poel) claims where correct. It is a great suppression tactic by those in power. But it also leaves the question of guilt unanswered, so your claim that the accusation is false cannot be verified in any way. Discrimination in general at FEB has been investigated by an unbiased party and it painted a very ugly picture when it came to women of non-dutch origin.

      • Jay, that one sentence made you lose all credibility regarding logical capacity.

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