Utrecht: students occupy university administration building‏

February 2, 2010

This morning at 7:05 a group of students occupied the main building of the University of Utrecht. The students are protesting against the university’s board decision to stop publishing the paper version of the University Newspaper. The action is the first of a series of national initiatives to stop budget cuts in education.

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University of Utrecht, the Board of Directors building, February 1st 2010

The Board of Directors crossed the line this time, and this isunacceptable! Despite all efforts to save the paper version of the Ublad(the University newspaper) with the support of thousands of students,professors and the complete U-raad (Council of representatives of the University community), they continue to impose their controversialpolicies. In the meantime, the quality of our education is at risk andour student grants are about to be cut. This is why we, the occupiers ofthe building of the Board of Directors at the University of Utrecht,feel obliged to take action and take a stand in favor of an independent,paper version of the Ublad, for the democratization of our Universitygovernment, and against the cuts on our education imposed by the Dutchgovernment.

By cancelling the paper version of the Ublad, it has become impossibleto keep the University community informed and to guarantee a democraticvoice. The University should be a place for independent thinking andshould always provide space for criticism. An independent Universitynewspaper is precisely what we need in order to move the universitycommunity to start a dialogue and become engaged with each other andsociety.

In our view, this issue concerning the Ublad is one out of many attemptsto transform the University into a company where the Board and herprofessional managers have their way at the expense of democracy,quality, diversity and scientific integrity. These core values which theUniversity must represent, should be reflected in the way the Universityis governed. In fact, the University should be directly governed by theUniversity community itself, instead of a non-democratically chosen clique.

Our concerns are not limited to Utrecht, because we are faced withdrastic nationwide reforms such as the budget cuts on education, thepossible cutting of student grants, the implementation of BSA (BindingStudy Advice), and our minister of Education’s neglect to defend theproposition for a ‘student assessor’(a student in the Board ofDirectors). The position of the University and education in society istoo important to be left up to and controlled by market mechanisms. Thisglobal process is negatively affecting education worldwide and has to bestopped immediately!

In Europe and the rest of the world, protests against this process arevisible evidenced by the almost hundred occupations and massdemonstrations in the Global Week of Action in November 2009. Now it’sour turn and we demand the following:

* The Ublad in its current paper format with an independent editor mustbe permanently secured by the Board of Directors of the University ofUtrecht.
* The U-raad of the University of Utrecht has the right to demandbinding referenda, facilitated by the University of Utrecht, for issuesthey consider important. This will be recorded in the statutes.
* The U-raad of the University of Utrecht will get a direct voice in alldecisions made by the Board of Directors of the University of Utrecht bya right to a fixed vote by U-raad majority and a veto right in case ofunanimity of the U-raad.
* All participants and others involved in the occupation of theUniversity of Utrecht on the 1st of February 2010 will be exempted fromall charges, now and in the future, by the University of Utrecht andother parties and may leave the occupied building and terrain withoutinvolvement of other parties.
* The current minister of Education, Culture and Science, Mr. RonaldPlasterk, will publically offer his apologies to the Dutch people forthe deterioration of education during his watch.
* The cabinet will publicly announce to stop the budget cuts and ensuremore investment in higher education per capita.

Our duty as student activists will not be over until we are heard andour demands are met. Therefore, we encourage all students, teachers andparents to resist the structural deterioration of our education and takea stand for decent public education that everyone is entitled to. Saveour education!


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