Concerns and actions at Radboud University – update 4

The horrific events in Israel and the Palestinian territories affect us all. The violence, the many victims and the human rights violations cause deeply felt emotions and great concern, also on our campus. That is exactly why we look back on yesterday with a heavy heart. As most of you have must have heard, the Erasmus building was evacuated late in the evening.

Over the past two weeks, the student activists have taken, and were given, space for their demonstrations and actions, and we have sat down with them, and with staff members who support them, several times. What they put forward increases the awareness of university partnerships and our accountability for these partnerships. We have listened carefully, and we must and wish to take this into account; we have started to draw up a clearer policy together with the faculties. This ambition is also reflected in our previously shared updates.

But yesterday, with the continued occupation of the Erasmus building after closing time, we as the Executive Board concluded that the limits of the permissible had been exceeded. The safety of students and employees on campus was at stake. During the evening we offered, several times, to talk to a delegation of the occupying students the next morning, on the condition that the occupation would be ended voluntarily. 

The occupying students did not respond to that. Subsequently, they were ordered repeatedly to leave the building. When it became clear that not everyone followed that order, we handed the situation over to the police. The police initiated the evacuation in a calm manner. A group of staff members who were present to support the protesting students and who wanted to observe the evacuation, were given the opportunity to be briefed by the police about their working method in advance.

A first group of twenty occupying students left the building by their own accord after the ordinance; a second group of eight calmly left the building at the request of the police, a third group of five allowed themselves, in some cases with some resistance, to be removed by the police. When the building was empty again, it was found that rooms had been trashed and turned upside down, and that graffiti had been applied. At present, the Erasmus building has been cleared and cleaned and it is expected that the low-rise building can be used again for educational purposes tomorrow. More information about the progress of the occupation can be found on the live blog.

As the Executive Board, we deeply regret that it has come to this. We can imagine that this event and the build-up to it has caused a stir within our academic community – as it did to us. Let us talk about this with each other in our broad university community.

Daniël Wigboldus, Agnes Muskens, José Sanders – Executive Board