University council critical of protest rules in UG buildings

The university has new house rules for protests in UG buildings, but the university council has its reservations.

Among other things, the rules state that protesters have to engage in conversation with the university and are not allowed to record anything or take photos.

Violence and intimidation are of course strictly forbidden, as are anonymous statements. The UG also says that primary processes must always continue. Protesters aren’t allowed to cause damage or use alcohol and drugs. Demonstrations cannot last beyond 7 p.m.

One set of rules

The university council is critical of this. ‘I would prefer demonstrations to be reviewed on a case-by-case basis rather than there being one set of rules’, says Manuel Reyes with the personnel faction. ‘These rules make it seem as though they want to decide ahead of time which protests are allowed and which aren’t. I think they’ll escalate things rather than de-escalate them.’

Ale ten Cate with student party Lijst Calimero points out that protests have led to many important changes. He refers the 2021 occupation of the Academy building in protest of Groningen’s room shortage. That eventually led to the expansion of emergency accommodation. ‘If you have too many rules, protests like that can no longer happen’, he fears.

Differences

According to board president Jouke de Vries, there are big differences. He points out that at the time, the activists who protested against the room shortage remained in communication with the UG. The new rules are there for the ones who do not (like during last year’s occupation). ‘If the protesters aren’t reasonable, we can’t do anything.’

People are also criticising the new rule that forbids recordings and photos. ‘As a protester, you want to show that you’re in consultation with UG representatives and that you might be violently evicted from the building’, argues Mathieu Paapst with the science faction.

De Vries promises that the UG will look into the legal feasibility of a ban on taking videos and photos.

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