On Tuesday, supporters of Susanne Täuber presented a petition signed by 3,500 people from the Netherlands and abroad to board president Jouke de Vries. They’re calling on the university to undo Täuber’s dismissal.
Hayo Bohlken, regional manager of the General Union of Educational Personnel (AOb), presented the petition to De Vries in the pouring rain. Not because the union had organised the petition, but because the actual initiators didn’t feel safe coming out. ‘I completely understand that’, said Bohlken.
As such, he acted as a spokesperson for Täuber’s supporters, telling the university president that they want the university to reinstate the social safety expert, who was fired after a conflict about an article published in the Journal of Management Studies got out of hand. They also want the university to respond to the consternation her dismissal has caused.
But the AOb also supports Täuber’s message. ‘We agree with Susanne’, says Bohlken. She may not always go about it the right way, but ‘if you focus on the message, what she says is perfectly justified’.
The other people protesting would only comment anonymously. ‘How can they fire her for doing her job and expect me to continue to go to work?’ one of Täuber’s colleagues said. ‘How can they ask me to think critically, if that gets me fired? The verdict clearly identified the culprit, but he gets to stay on a full professor’s salary and Susanne gets fired.’
A scholarship PhD candidate said he was ‘very worried’ about the mismanagement he sees happening around him. ‘I really hope the university will start making some changes, because this situation makes you desperate.’
De Vries says the university waited to give a statement because they hadn’t officially received the signatures yet. ‘Besides that, this involves a court case. Miss Täuber has said she’s appealing the verdict, but it’s difficult for us to comment on ongoing cases.’
He promised the protesters present that he would ‘take a close look’ at the petition. ‘I’ll get back to you.’