Opening academic year is a day for protests nowadays

Opening academic year is a day for protests nowadays

The opening of the academic year is often accompanied by protests nowadays. UG staff and students demonstrated against the high workload and crippling student debts on Monday.
31 August om 20:38 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 2 September 2020
om 11:11 uur.
August 31 at 20:38 PM.
Last modified on September 2, 2020
at 11:11 AM.


Giulia Fabrizi

Door Giulia Fabrizi

31 August om 20:38 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 2 September 2020
om 11:11 uur.
Giulia Fabrizi

By Giulia Fabrizi

August 31 at 20:38 PM.
Last modified on September 2, 2020
at 11:11 AM.
Giulia Fabrizi

Giulia Fabrizi

Nieuwscoördinator
Volledig bio
News coordinator
Full bio

‘All these temporary contracts are forcing young scientists to live like nomads’, says professor Nasser Kalantar-Nayestanaki. At noon exactly on Monday, he is posted in front of the Academy building. Dressed in a red shirt, he and dozens of his colleagues are preparing for a bike tour past the university faculties. 

They’ve named it the ‘Tour of Academics’, and it symbolises the long road that young scientists are forced to travel. Travelling from city to city and from campus to campus where all they get are temporary positions, they’re looking for that place that will finally allow them to stay. ‘Even the current budget allows the university to offer people more, so why aren’t we doing that?’ says Kalantar-Nayestanaki.

Small group of people

The Groningen scientists return to the Broerplein an hour later, coinciding with the arrival of the board of directors who are opening the academic year. The coronavirus means they’re not part of a procession leading to the Martini church. Instead, the opening is taking place at the Academy building with only a small group of people present. The whole thing is being live-streamed to the rest of the academic community. 

Kalantar-Nayestanaki sees an opportunity and approaches board president Jouke de Vries, asking him politely yet sharply to listen to what WOinActie and the AOb and FNV unions have to say. Please give young scientists permanent contracts; the entire university stands to benefit.

Worried about well-being

While the board of directors, the supervisory board, the university council members and honorary guest minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Sigrid Kaag (D66) privately prepare for the official opening, members of student party DAG are worried about the well-being of university employees.

They’ve hung a banner in front of the Academy building: 10,000 hours of unpaid work every day at the university of Groningen. According to the party’s recent calculations, for which they used national numbers collected by WOinActie, Groningen university staff collectively work 10,000 hours of unpaid overtime a day. ‘I don’t understand how the board of directors can calmly enjoy the opening of the year while this is going on’, says party leader Ivi Kussi.

Debt

Elsewhere in town, in front of the DUO main offices, students are protesting against other things: the increase in student debt since the basic grant was abolished in 2015. The National Student Union (LSVb) and FNV Young & United have unofficially renamed the building the ‘Ministry of Debt’.

In the meantime, rector Cisca Wijmenga addresses the academic community online. She acknowledges the work everyone has done so far and says that now more than ever, it’s important to work together. As an African saying goes, she says: you’ll be faster alone, but you’ll go farther together.

Nederlands