They were inspired by assistant professor Eelco Runia’s critical op-ed in the NRC, and what the students deemed to be a ‘weak and incorrect’ response from the faculty board and the Board of Directors. They refused to comment on Runia’s criticism because they claimed it was a ‘personal issue’. Students and staff also received an e-mail advising them not to talk to the press.
Approximately seventy students engaged dean Gerry Wakker and vice dean Daan Raemaekers in a debate as they sat on the ground or leaned against the walls. The students are mainly upset that the faculty and the RUG board is calling Runia’s criticism ‘a personal matter, when the problems he addresses affect all students’, one of them said. ‘Why aren’t they listening?’
They called upon the arts faculty board to ‘no longer hide behind the Board of Directors’, but to give off a critical sound. ‘Think for us, take students seriously for once. As a faculty, show the RUG board and the politicians that there are serious problems here, be more than just a puppet of the university and the minister.’
According to dean Gerry Wakker, the faculty is definitely talking to the Board of Directors. ‘We do talk about it a lot. It’s just not always visible to you.’
On Thursday, the arts faculty organised an open meeting at the Harmonie building, where people could discuss the commotion caused by Runia’s article. To the disappointment of many, including Runia himself, the afternoon was not meant as an opportunity for debate, however.
Dean Gerry Wakker has promised there will be opportunity for this debate, although for now it is limited to the history department, and will not include the rest of the faculty. ‘We have identified some serious issues, and we need to address them’, Wakker said. When the debate will be held is not yet known.
As a precaution, the board building at the Oude Boteringestraat, which seats the Board of Directors, was locked last Friday. This was because there had been rumours of people threatening a sit-in, according to RUG spokesperson Gernant Deekens.
Signs were hung on the door that there was a technical malfunction and people could only enter the building with a key fob. Anyone in possession of a key fob who works in the building could enter, he said.