The organisation Scholars at Risk (SAR) recorded 409 attacks on academic freedom worldwide this year. Iran is on the list, as well as Russia and Afghanistan. The Netherlands are mentioned once: the case of Täuber at the UG.
The annual report, Free to Think, published by SAR, an international network advocating for academic freedom, describes over four hundred cases of murder, violence, disappearance, imprisonment, or intimidation, with one Dutch issue: the dismissal of social safety expert Susanne Täuber.
Disrupted work relationship
Täuber was dismissed by the UG in March of this year. According to the university, there was a disrupted work relationship, it was impossible to work with her, she publicly accused other UG employees without good reason, and she consistently failed to keep appointments.
Täuber, in turn, claimed that she was discriminated against in promotions and that the Faculty of Economics and Business – where she worked – wanted to silence her after some critical publications about the disadvantaged position of women in the academic world.
The issue led to a lot of emotions at the UG. The Academy building was occupied twice by angry students. A significant number of teachers and professors took action to Twitter to support her, under the hashtag ‘AmINext?’
Scholars at Risk is concerned about the matter, as stated in the annual report, and sees the dismissal as retaliation because Täuber spoke out. ‘Employees have the right to criticise the institutions where they work without fear of reprisals.’
University administrators should refrain from retaliatory actions, SAR writes. ‘Such actions not only harm the direct victim but also undermine academic freedom.’
The UG says it has not been approached by SAR regarding the report. The university does not want to comment further on the matter. ‘We always want to discuss social safety and academic freedom, but not when it comes to individuals’, a spokesperson responded.