How taboo is a topic that an ex-prime minister cannot debate it in public at a university? Did you know that academic freedom at The Hague University is being threatened? A student and teachers initiated debate with former Dutch prime-minister Dries van Agt about the Israel-Palestine question may be blocked. Do you want your academic freedom to be curtailed by a (non-academic) management, prioritizing their institution’s reputation?
A group of students initiated a debate with Dries van Agt, former Dutch prime minister, at the Hague University of Applied Sciences.
The event was organized well in advance and respecting all the provisions and rules of the institution pertaining to the invitation of guest speakers.
During his time as prime minister, Mr van Agt was a strong supporter of Israel , he now is critical of Israel’s violation of international law and human rights.
Support for the event was suddenly withdrawn, well after the event was announced and approved, under the pretext of a conflict of neutrality. However, The Hague University has allowed controversial figures, some with opposing viewpoints to Mr. van Agt, to speak unopposed at events open to the public in the past, and not allowing Dries van Agt to speak is a clear application of a double standard.
Mr. van Agt has been allowed to publicly speak on the issue of the Middle-east numerous times and at various higher education institutions, including some of the most prestigious of the Netherlands. As a collective of students, teachers, and members of the citizenry at large, we are extremely concerned about the restriction of academic freedom at The Hague University of Applied Sciences pertaining to this event.
We believe that a public university such as De Haagse Hogeschool has a duty to be a platform to the entirety of society and for a wide variety of voices and opinions. Historically, universities have been platforms and refuges for the intellectually marginalized for the greater benefit of society. We believe that restricting the organization of the aforementioned event is a breach of such a tradition and duty and a betrayal of the core values of academic freedom and integrity, as well as freedom of speech.
We further believe that not allowing the event to take place as intended sets a dangerous precedent, as it implies the right for a University’s administrative councils to control student and staff participation in university life and organization of extra-curricular learning. We do not believe this to be consistent with the values of democracy and freedom of expression.
Critical Collective will submit an appeal with the University’s Board of Directors to intervene in support of having the event as Critical Collective intended it.
Defend academic freedom. For more information on the event please check: https://www.facebook.com/events/248916405234095/
To contact Critical Collective please write to Ruben Rosenberg Colorni at firstname.lastname@example.org