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The Young Academy response to the UNL directive on student protests at universities

June 13, 2024

In May 2024, Universities of the Netherlands (UNL) and Association of Universities of Applied Sciences (VH) published a directive on protests at research universities and universities of applied sciences.

This directive outlines a set of basic principles that apply for protests at universities across the Netherlands. The Young Academy wishes to express its concern regarding this directive. While it states that universities “wholeheartedly support” the right to demonstrate, the directive risks having a chilling effect on protesters. Thereby it contradicts the spirit of universities, which are places of public reason and have a fundamental responsibility to safeguard the freedoms of expression, association, assembly, and demonstration as much as possible.

We call on UNL to revise its directive and encourage university boards to adopt a framework that upholds the rights of protestors while fostering an environment of open, pluralistic dialogue. Such a framework should:

  1. Reaffirm universities’ responsibility to protect the right to protest;
  2. Recognise universities as places of public reason and pluralistic dialogue; 
  3. Adopt a proactive approach to facilitating dialogue within the university community on complex and contentious issues.

The complete statement can be found here.



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