Erasmus University is an academic organisation. Debate and dialogue are part of our right to exist. We therefore feel miserable about the fact that last week's OccupyEUR occupation ended with police deployment. We welcome the constructive conversation we had this week with some of the initiators of the petition we received from students and lecturers. In it, we expressed our support for the petition.
One of the steps we are taking now is clarifying what the university is doing on sustainability and what our connections are with organisations in the fossil industry. We were already working on this, but we are going to accelerate it. We are also investing in the short term in a broad dialogue within our academic community on this topic. We stand for everyone's voice to be heard in this.
Above all, campus is a place where students should feel safe. Last week's events did not contribute to that feeling. Psychological help will be made available for students who have experienced distress and are in need of it.
Considerations to end the occupation
We will evaluate the events of last week and the decision to end the occupation with police deployment. In doing so, we will look at the lessons learned. The university took the decision to end the occupation after discussing some scenarios with the police. In doing so, we think it is important to stress that the occupation itself was not the main concern. There was information that groups from outside the university would join the action. Based on that information, the university was concerned about safety on campus and asked students to leave the building. The vast majority of those present complied. When a small number of students refused to leave the premises even after multiple requests and deployment of our own security guards, we sought the help of the police.
We continue to seek dialogue
We value a good mutual dialogue, especially about the role of the university in the transition to a sustainable world. On the other topics of the open letter (temporary employment, student debt and accessible education), we do not shy away from dialogue either. We realise that the events of last week seem to paint a different picture and we are sorry for that.
As the Executive Board, we are making extra efforts in the coming period to reconnect with each other. We want to be visible and approachable. We are therefore pleased with the constructive conversation we had this week with several initiators of the petition. In it, we expressed our support for the two requests it made to the EB. We do not hold anything against students who participated in the occupation. In fact, we are looking into how we can accommodate occupiers or other students whose educational activities or exams were hampered by the occupation or the closure of buildings. In addition, we continue to look for ways to properly have the conversation with OccupyEUR, but also with our entire academic community.
We clarify our connections with organisations in the fossil industry
One of the steps we are now taking is to clarify what the university is doing on sustainability and what our connections are with organisations in the fossil industry. We were already working on this, but we are going to accelerate it. We hope to share the first insights in January. What is certain is that Erasmus University Rotterdam does not invest in the fossil industry. However, we do cooperate with organisations active in the fossil fuel industry, partly out of the conviction that they can play an important role in the transition to a sustainable world.
We want to contribute to a sustainable society through critical and focused thinking, education and action in research, education and operations, and within our partnerships.
As the Executive Board, we are visible and approachable
In order to be visible and approachable, in the coming period, we as EB will participate in conversations on sustainability that were already planned, but we will also organise additional ways of engaging with each other in the short term, so that everyone feels the space and has the opportunity to make their voices heard. Specifically, the EB wants to join an already planned roundtable discussion next week on Erasmian values and sustainability. In addition, we are exploring ways to shape the conversation more broadly, for example through Studium Generale meetings. As soon as more is known about this, more concrete information will follow.
The Executive Board of Erasmus University Rotterdam:
Ed Brinksma, chairman
Annelien Bredenoord, rector magnificus
Ellen van Schoten, vice-chairman