Protests at Maastricht University - Update 4

Maastricht University has decided that some of the protesters at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASoS) may remain present at night for the time being in the role of ‘observers’. The condition is that the protests remain non-violent and the agreements made by UM and the activists are kept.

Today, a delegation from the University Council entered into talks with the activists. That consultation went ‘respectfully and substantively’, the president of the University Council said.

Read a personal message written by Rianne Letschert - also on behalf of the Executive Board and deans - here.

Dear colleagues, students and residents of Maastricht,

The situation at universities in the Netherlands is on all our minds. Not only here in Maastricht, but emotions have been running high in many university cities. 

Today I am writing to tell you that in Maastricht we are doing our best to listen to everyone. We want to give every voice the opportunity to be heard. We are an academic community for a reason;  a community whose existence is due to the openness, diversity and complexity of debate, facts and the exchange of ideas. 

Recently, the Executive Board and all deans have been deeply concerned. A repeat of what happened in Amsterdam - the violence, the destruction, the danger - is unworthy of any academic institution. It simply does not fit with what a university is and represents.

Therefore, we want to let everyone know - whether you work, study or live near the university - that in any development around any kind of protest, we put safety first - always. For us, safety and acting with integrity are the guiding values in any future  development. I am talking about the safety and integrity of everyone: resident, student, colleague and activist.

With these values at the forefront of my mind, my efforts at the moment are entirely focused on de-escalating the situation at our premises. I want us to succeed in proving that we can safely discuss within our academic community a terrible conflict outside our borders. If we succeed in this, in one of the most international and diverse cities in the Netherlands, we can rightly call ourselves a city in which people learn to live with differences - from generation to generation, time and again.

That is - to put it mildly - not easy.

Every day, I get messages from people saying, ‘Rianne, why have you allowed such a demonstration in the first place? Why don't you kick those people off your property?’ And I am shocked by that. If someone from our UM community is so emotional and troubled by the ongoing situation in Gaza that they want to demonstrate about it, then that is fine. As long as it does not get out of hand, and the demonstration is not hijacked by people or organisations with non-peaceful aims, of course. That has fortunately not been the case with us so far. Let's keep it that way.

I want to repeat that with every dilemma that lands on my plate in the coming weeks, I will think first and foremost on your safety. Therefore, at some locations, only people with a UM card can enter and you will see more security walking around. Not ideal, but for the moment, in my view, the wisest thing to do.

However you feel about any conflict in any place in the world, at Maastricht University no one can let their opinions and emotions be accompanied by destruction, violence and danger to others. As soon as those things threaten to take the place of arguments, inspired voices and respectful ears - then the moment when we literally have nothing left to say is far too close. And that would be immensely sad.

Keeping our academic community together depends on all our efforts. We should therefore consider ourselves fortunate with the open and democratic nature of our community. Many discussions are planned with many different groups - including the Jewish community of staff and students. Meanwhile, there will also be an additional scheduled University Council meeting this Friday. Our University Council has been meeting with the protesters, has been briefed on their goals and remains in discussion with the Executive Board. Hopefully, thanks to these and many other ways, we will succeed in continuing to do justice to the multiplicity and multifaceted nature of the feelings in the hearts and minds of UM staff and students. 

It is up to all of us to respect each other and acknowledge the feelings of anger, sadness and powerlessness felt on so many fronts. 

Also on behalf of my colleagues in the Executive Board and all deans of Maastricht University,

Rianne Letschert
President Maastricht University

More updates

  • Maastricht University's Executive Board, in close consultation with the deans, is developing a human rights due diligence assessment tool to help make an informed assessment of whether, and if so to what extent, our partners with whom we have an administrative partnership are involved in violations...

  • Due to the occupation of some of the FASoS buildings, FASoS will be closed until further notice. There will be no teaching on-campus today and we are looking into whether classes can move online. Our students will be informed about the closure of our buildings and the consequences this has on...

  • UM is still in dialogue with the protesting students that are involved in today's occupation of the FASoS building. The aim is and remains 'de-escalation', and the safety of everyone involved comes first. At the same time, we want to ensure that we can fulfil our primary task, education and research...

More news items
  • In the morning of Wednesday, 22 May, a group of student protestors occupied a Maastricht University (UM) building at Grote Gracht. This prompted the university to engage in discussions with the protesters, some of whom had also set up a tent camp behind the building the previous week. 

  • For safety reasons and to ensure the continuity of teaching and research, Maastricht University has taken a number of measures.

  • Read a personal message written by Rianne Letschert - also on behalf of the Executive Board and deans - here.

  • The University Council of Maastricht University (UM) is holding a confidential today.

  • The Executive Board Executive Board and the University Council of Maastricht University (UM) met today and discussed both the protests at UM and the underlying issue of international cooperations.

  • The protesters in the garden of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASoS) may remain there over the Whitsun weekend on the condition that the protest remains non-violent and that the previously made agreements are kept. To date, the activists are abiding by these conditions.

  • It has come to the attention of Maastricht University’s Executive Board and Management Team via an anonymous email that six of the protesters who have been allowed to stay in the garden of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASoS) have embarked on a hunger strike as of today until their...

  • Maastricht University has decided that some of the protesters at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASoS) may remain present at night for the time being in the role of ‘observers’. The condition is that the protests remain non-violent and the agreements made by UM and the activists are kept.

    T...

  • Maastricht University's Executive Board and Management Team have agreed to allow a group of ‘observers’ to stay in the FASoS garden for the the second consecutive night. This will take place under the same conditions as last night. This decision follows yet another day of peaceful actions and...

  • Peaceful Gaza protests and tent camp at FASoS as UM’s Executive Board and faculty continue dialogue with activists.

  • The Executive Board of Maastricht University, the faculty board of the Faculty of Arts and Socials Sciences (FASoS), and the campaigning students and staff have agreed that a small group of 'observers' can remain on the grounds of FASoS tonight. The rest of the protesters have left the premises. The...

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