Updates demonstrations campus Woudestein Live blog

Campus Woudestein.
Campus Woudestein.
Alexander Santos Lima

Developments surrounding the war between Israel and Hamas and the people of Gaza are rapidly following one another, both in the Middle East and in the Netherlands. Protests are taking place at universities across the country. A pro-Palestine demonstration was going on at Woudestein campus from Thursday 30 May up until Sunday 9 June. This liveblog gathers the latest updates on developments at our university.

Frequently asked questions
We maintain a list of current answers to frequently asked questions on a separate page. Please also check there to stay up-to-date.

Picking up abandoned items

From tomorrow, Tuesday 11 June to Friday 14 June, between 13:00 and 14:00, the items left behind from the demonstration at Erasmus Plaza can be picked up in the MB Hallen in the Van der Goot Building. This can be done without identification. After Friday, the items left will be donated.

Statement from the Executive Board

It is unfortunate that the police had to intervene by order of the mayor. We are relieved that the protesters have voluntarily left Erasmus Plaza. We, too, have been touched day by day by the terrible events that continue to follow one another in Gaza and Israel. The campus is there for everyone. The right to demonstrate is important, but it doesn't exceed everything else. Especially since we offered the protesters a good alternative location on campus, which would not interfere with the activities of the coming weeks. We would like to invite our students and staff who are involved or feel involved in any way to participate in the dialogue tables that we have started. There is also room to contribute to the work of the new Advisory Committee Sensitive Collaborations.

Cleaning operations started

Erasmus Plaza is cleaned after demonstration

Left voluntarily

The protesters have chosen to leave the campus voluntarily. The riot police did come, but did not have to intervene. The first clean-up activities at Erasmus Plaza have already started. The tents and other belongings of the protesters left behind are removed. Tomorrow, a cleaning crew will continue to remove the graffiti on walls and floors. That's expected to take at least all day. Tuesday marks the start of the build-up of the HeartBeat Festival, which will take place on Thursday 13 June.

Group of protesters grows larger and does not move to new location

Unfortunately, after several requests from the police, the protesters have not yet left Erasmus Plaza to the new location. The group of protesters is now growing in size, with a sizeable portion of the group wearing face-covering clothing. Slogans are being chanted.

The demonstrators have not complied with the requests to move

The demonstrators have unfortunately not complied with the requests to move by 6 p.m. today to the alternative location on campus as proposed by the Executive Board . A location at Park North - a 3-minute walk from Erasmus Plaza - is available for the demonstration. The Executive Board regrets the protesters' decision and is convinced that the demonstration and other activities such as the Well Being Week and the HeartBeat Festival can coexist well. Erasmus University Rotterdam values the right to demonstrate and has therefore made every effort in recent weeks to allow, within reason, the demonstration of students and staff on campus.

Moving to "Park Noord"

The protesters at Erasmus Plaza have announced via social media that they do not intend to leave for the alternative location on campus that has been proposed to them by the Rotterdam triangle. The protesters could pitch their tents in Park Noord, a grassy field a 3-minute walk from Erasmus Plaza, between the University Library and the tennis courts. This is necessary because next week the Well Being week and the HeartBeat Festival will take place for all students and staff of Erasmus University. 

We have contacted them again today in the hope that the protesters will decide to move. If the protesters do not leave, the mayor may decide to issue an instruction to relocate.

Rectors of the 15 universities of the Netherlands publish an open letter

The rectors of the 15 universities of the Netherlands have written a joint letter on academic freedom and the partnerships with Israeli knowledge institutions. They write that they do not want to break these collaborations, unless the government forces it as happened in the case of Russia. Or if a collaboration no longer allows open and academic debate, it will be discontinued, the rectors add. This applies to both Israeli and Palestinian collaborations. The rectors' letter was posted today in newspaper Trouw.

Demonstrators asked to relocate

The Heartbeat Festival is coming. Next Thursday, June 13, our campus will be converted into a large festival site for a party for all students and employees at the end of the anniversary year. Earlier today, the demonstrators were asked to leave Erasmus Plaza by the end of the afternoon next Sunday, June 9. The alternative location that has been proposed is Park Noord, elsewhere on campus.

Advisory Committee Sensitive Collaborations installed

EUR Advisory Committee Sensitive Collaborations (CGS) was installed by the Executive Board today. The CGS, chaired by Ruard Ganzevoort, will study and advise on our university’s institutional ties with Israel. In NRC today, he speaks at length about this committee's consideration frameworks and dilemmas. The committee’s Plan of Action will be shared with the EUR community in the coming weeks. 

Open and respectful conversation

Yesterday, the Executive Board spoke with representatives of the protesters on the campus of Erasmus University Rotterdam. No statements are made about the content of the conversation, but the Executive Board says that it was an open and respectful conversation. After six days, it is good to have taken this step, also for any follow-up talks.

Cleanup and declaration

Removal of the daubing continues today. It turns out that it is not just water paint, unfortunately in some places not all the paint can be removed. The costs involved are high and certainly exceed 100 thousand euros.

After the start of cleaning, a new daubing was found on Tinbergen Building during the day. This will be reported today. A report is also being filed for the vandalism of the large screen at Erasmus Plaza. Protesters damaged it last week by climbing on it and defacing it.

Clean up on campus.

Stricter application of house rules

The protesters are still present on campus, with a group of about 30 people and 17 tents. Over the past weekend, numerous slogans have been painted on buildings and the campus grounds, including anti-Semitic expressions and threatening language.

As a result, the Executive Board decided to enforce the house rules on defacement and vandalism on Woudestein campus more strictly. From now on, protesters will only be allowed to express their opinions via banners or cardboard signs within the tent camp.

Any subsequent defacement or placarding on Woudestein campus will be reported to the police immediately. The extent to which costs can be recovered from the protesters is being investigated. Any violation of the house rules will also be dealt with immediately and, if necessary, reported to the police.

For now, Erasmus University – with the limited legal room for manoeuvre available – wants to continue to provide space for protesters to exercise their right to demonstrate for as long as possible. At the same time, we need to be able to ensure the safety and integrity of buildings and people on campus.

We realise that boundaries are being sought and crossed by protesters. The Executive Board is in close contact with the triangle (mayor, police and public prosecutor), who until now has found insufficient reason, based on the Public Demonstrations Act (which applies outside the buildings at Woudestein), to terminate the demonstration.

On Friday evening, an Erasmus University student carrying an Israeli flag was chased by some protesters on campus Woudestein. The Executive Board emphatically stands against this action. Everyone is allowed to express their opinion, so presenting the Israeli flag should be as possible as the Palestinian flag. Such incidents will also be reported.

Last night, a student of Erasmus University walked with an Israeli flag to the pro-Palestine demonstration on the Woudestein campus. Everyone is allowed to express their opinion, so presenting the Israeli flag should be as possible as the Palestinian flag. In principle there is plenty of room for demonstrating and expressing your opinion on the Woudestein campus. Challenging each other and chasing each other down is certainly not part of that and will not be tolerated. This message was conveyed very clearly to all parties immediately after this incident by the security guards who intervened.

Both Thursday and Friday, there has been regular contact with the protesters about the proposal to enter into talks with the Executive Board, but the protesters have not responded to this so far. The right to demonstrate is of great importance to Erasmus University, but this also has its limits. We emphatically stand against the events of last night. There is no room for anti-Semitic or Islamophobic expressions on the Woudestein campus. When these rules are violated the safety of students, staff and protesters cannot be guaranteed. This is testing the limits of our own possibilities here. We are in constant and close consultation with the Rotterdam triangle (Mayor, police, Public Prosecutor's Office) about the manageability of the situation. Any intervention on campus is a decision that is ultimately taken within the triangle with a view to maintaining public order.

Anyone who feels unsafe can turn to Safe@EUR.

Around 6pm this evening, a student carrying an Israeli flag was chased across campus Woudestein by a group of pro-Palestine protesters. Discrimination (including anti-Semitism and Islamophobia), racism, hate speech, incitement, calls for violence and vandalism are not tolerated. Security monitoring at Woudestein campus immediately intervened. We are investigating the exact facts and will provide an update later on the consequences for these actions.

The university is in regular contact with the protesters; they have not yet accepted the invitation to enter into conversation with the Executive Board inside.  

In consultation with the triangle (mayor, police and public prosecutor), the Executive Board has found that based on the Public Manifestations Act (which applies outside on campus Woudestein), there is no reason to disband the demonstration so far, even though our house rules do not allow overnight stays on campus. 

The demonstration so far has been mostly peaceful as was the overnight stay. With this approach, we want to provide space for the demonstrators to exercise their right to demonstrate. We'd like to emphasise again that any discrimination (including anti-Semitism and Islamophobia), racism, hate speech, incitement, calls for violence and vandalism will not be tolerated.

Frequently asked questions about demonstration

We maintain a list of current answers to frequently asked questions on a separate page.

It was a quiet night on campus with about 20 people in tents. Everything is open on the Woudestein campus with some restrictions: parking is only possible in the Erasmus Plaza parking garage. Sanders Building, Erasmus Building and Mandeville Building are still accessible today via 1 entrance upon presentation of a student card or employee card.

The situation on campus is currently peaceful. A group of about 40 protesters is still present on Erasmus Plaza.

Meanwhile, some protesters have defaced several places on campus with paint: walls, a stairwell and also the big screen on Campus Plaza.

The university has reached out and made contact with the protesters. It has been proposed to engage in conversation inside, without face coverings and after identification. For now, the protesters have indicated that they do not wish to accept the invitation under these conditions.

It has been decided to close the FoodPlaza at 5pm as a precautionary measure.

At the moment, the demonstration is proceeding peacefully, there is no reason to decide to close the buildings completely as before. All scheduled meetings, lectures and other events will continue.

It is possible to drive out of the parking garage; entry is currently not possible.

The demonstration will be monitored in order to take possible measures if the situation calls for it. Safety for students, staff and demonstrators is, as always, top priority.

As a precautionary measure, it has been decided that Sanders Building, Erasmus Building and Mandeville Building will be accessible on presentation of employee or student ID card.

Pro-Palestine demonstration 30 May

A pro-Palestine protest started around 14:30 on campus Woudestein. Several dozen protesters gathered in front of Food Plaza with a drum band and two tents. More information will follow.

How we want to move forward

In these turbulent times, we would like to reflect on the recent events and protests that have taken place in response to the gripping conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, and on how we as a university want to follow up on this.

Especially in these difficult times, we want to be an inclusive and respectful university, a community in which everyone feels safe and heard, despite sometimes even major differences of opinion. The situation in Gaza evokes deep emotions everywhere, including in our own country. We want to reaffirm that peaceful gatherings and protests are essential components of democratic expression and a way for our community to make its voice heard. Our university is and will remain an environment in which dialogue and understanding must be central.

Erasmian values

It is important that we seek to find each other in our shared values of humanity, justice, and respect for all individuals, regardless of their background or beliefs. This is what our Erasmian values are for: social involvement, global citizenship, connecting, enterprising and also open-minded.

That is why, from the beginning of the war between Israel and Hamas, we have said that we facilitate dialogue, debate and demonstrations. We see that some of our students and staff take on this responsibility by participating in teach-ins, walk-outs and demonstrations. They are making their voices heard against the humanitarian crisis. We recognize that this can cause friction, discomfort, and anxiety. But it is part of the nature and core of a university that we persist in giving space to different perspectives, insights and beliefs. That there can be critical debate. That it's abrasive. However, it is important that all our students and staff feel safe on our campus, whether they have a Palestinian, Jewish or other background. Discrimination, vandalism or violence have no place at a university. In doing so, they threaten academic freedom and perceived safety.


We had to decide to close the university last Thursday. We would much rather not have had to do that. Due to the urgent request of the triangle (mayor, police and public prosecution service) Rotterdam, we felt no other choice. The safety of students, staff and protesters could not be guaranteed. The organising parties have subsequently postponed their announced demonstration on campus, but do not rule out the possibility that new actions will come to campus at a later date.

Unfortunately, a number of organizers indicate via social media that they do not feel the need for a dialogue. We think it is important to always remain open to dialogue and we notice that many of our students and staff feel the same way. After all, that is the core and nature of a university: that you always keep talking to each other and are always curious about the other person's considerations and arguments. We will not allow ourselves to be held hostage by parties that, in their own words, 'do not want to talk, but want a revolution'. That's not part of the nature of an academy.

3 Pillars

We are therefore taking the initiative to conduct the dialogue on this issue in greater depth and scope. This approach is based on three pillars:

  1. Activities to strengthen solidarity and understanding within the EUR community.
  2. Promoting transparency and normative criteria in our partnerships.
  3. Initiatives to contribute to the reconstruction of the knowledge infrastructure in Gaza.

1: Dialogue tables

We enter into dialogue with each other within the fixed consultation structures with students and staff, such as the University Council, and we facilitate and organize dialogue tables, via the IDEA Center and possibly also via Studium Generale and the Living Room, Students and staff are explicitly asked to participate and participate.

2: Committee on Partnerships in formation

A university-wide Committee for Partnerships EUR will be set up to advise on collaboration with international knowledge institutions and other partners. Important criteria in this regard are human rights, knowledge security and the core values of the EUR. A lot of work is currently being done on the criteria and the procedure. Once the members have been appointed, cooperation with partners involved in the situation in Gaza and Israel will be examined first.

3: Contribution to the reconstruction of the knowledge infrastructure in Gaza

After the destruction of the academic structure in Gaza, reconstruction is necessary. Although we realize that our options are limited under the current circumstances, we want to explore how we can help students, scholars and institutes in Gaza together with other universities and the international academic community. Both in Gaza and the West Bank, as well as in student and staff exchanges. We would also like to discuss this with our EUR community.

Executive Board,

Ed Brinksma
Annelien Bredenoord
Ellen van Schoten

Campus woudestein in summer
Alexander Santos Lima

Erasmus University Rotterdam reopens campus on Friday, May 17

The announced pro-Palestine demonstration on campus Woudestein did not take place today on the Erasmus University Rotterdam premises following the closure of the buildings on the urgent advice of the triangle,. The campus will remain closed on Thursday 16 May, but the buildings will reopen on Friday 17 May and all lectures, work, exams and other activities will resume. The only exception is a small number in Sanders Building, as these lectures have already been cancelled.

A number of pro-Palestinian organisations have moved their demonstration from today to the Rotterdam Central Station square. Social media from organising parties reveal that they do plan to still come to campus Woudestein at another time. The university, again in cooperation with the triangle of mayor, police and OM, is making the necessary preparations for this. Safety comes first, of course, and in consultation with the triangle, the necessary safety measures will be taken in the coming period. More information will follow.

Frequently asked questions about demonstration

We maintain a list of current answers to frequently asked questions on a separate page. Please also check there to stay up-to-date.

Quiet on campus Woudestein

The pro-Palestine demonstration was scheduled to start at 13:00. But so far it is quiet. The protest seems to have moved to Rotterdam Central Station.

Empty campus on Thursday, May 16, 2024.

Online reports that demonstration on campus Woudestein has been cancelled

Reports are appearing that today's pro-Palestine demonstration on campus Woudestein has been cancelled. In any case, the campus will remain closed for the day. Security on campus is the responsibility of the triangle and it is present on campus.

Erasmus University will close all buildings tomorrow on the urgent advice of the triangle

Following the urgent advice of the Rotterdam triangle (consisting of the mayor, police and Public Prosecution Service), Erasmus University will close all buildings on the Woudestein campus on Thursday 16 May for safety reasons and Erasmus University College. Pro-Palestinian organisations have announced a demonstration on campus from 1 p.m. on this day. The demonstration on campus can go ahead and the outstanding invite of the Executive Board to talk to representatives of students and staff still stands.

President of the Executive Board Ed Brinksma: "It is extremely disappointing that it is necessary to close all buildings on campus. With this demonstration, our own students and staff want to peacefully draw attention to the situation in Gaza and the changes they want to see. However, since the nature and size of the demonstration cannot be estimated, the triangle has urged us to take this preventive measure and close all buildings. The course of protests elsewhere in the country shows that the risks can be significant.”

Because all buildings will be closed, there will be no exams, lectures, tutorials, PhD defences, inaugural lectures and events on campus on this day. Online exams (via online proctoring) are also canceled. Where possible, we try to offer online education and/or move activities away from campus.

Brinksma: "We think it's important to be able to demonstrate. Because we do not make our buildings accessible, we also hope that this demonstration will be given the necessary space. We want there to be room within a university for different opinions and for peaceful demonstrations. Of course, we all hope for a respectful and open conversation like the one that has taken place before and we hope to avoid scenes like the one in Amsterdam. However, the safety of both the students and staff of our university and the participants is paramount to us as a university."

Walkout on campus

This morning, around 70 people responded to Dutch Scholars for Palestine's broad call for a so-called walkout. They walked away from the lectures, the working group or the workplace around 11:00 and met outside on Woudestein campus. As in previous meetings around the situation in Gaza, people started talking to each other and chanting slogans. They call attention to the situation in Gaza and the Palestinian people.

President of the Executive Board Ed Brinksma at Radio Rijnmond - Wednesday 15 May 17:30

More information

We maintain a list of current answers to frequently asked questions on a separate page. Please also check there to stay up-to-date.

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