My impression is that many of our goals are ‘glocal’, i.e. local as well as global in character. Hence it is no coincidence that many of them have directly been taken over by protests at other universities. Not only that. Many professionals in other public sectors recognize our problems as similar to theirs. Everywhere the same opposition between management and professionals, and everywhere the feeling that intrinsic goals have been taken over and subjected to the goals of financialization and efficient management, resulting in ever more control, paperwork and top down management.

So maybe it’s possible to see the protests as part of a more general attempt to end the ‘tragedy of the commons’ (Ewald Engelen). In our specific case ‘ending the tragedy of the commons boils down to putting a halt to the ‘rise of the global corporate university’. As Robin Celikates en Enzo Rossi have stated, corporatization has changed the university into “the bureaucratic equivalent of a sausage-factory: the production of the knowledge-sausage at minimum cost for the maximum number of consumers”.

To end this process, Re-think, HR and D.NU first of all need: A central public space for deliberation and alternative programming. That space has now become the Maagdenhuis. Hence, in terms of strategy, it is clear that the hall of the maagdenhuis should remain under the control of D.NU as long as possible. This remains so, even when D.NU decides to end the occupation. The Maagdenhuis has to remain a space where those concerned can discuss what is at stake: “the meaning of the university, the societal future of public institutions, and the right to self-determination or self-governance of those who perform the core tasks at such institutions.” (Donya Alinejad). The symbolic meaning of this place cannot be overvalued.

More generally, reflections on the meaning of ‘place’ instead of ‘space’ has to remain an important focus of our discussions. A good place to start the ‘re-appropriation of public space’ might be Helios Guia´s letter, addressed to the General Assembly, and the members of Re-think and Humanities Rally of 19 march. Maybe Art-rethink can take this up too, in cooperation with members of HR and D.NU. Julie McBrien has also started to discuss the differences between managerial and democratic or academic forms of the appropriation of space.

I think it is also clear that we need to join forces:

  1. We have to that university-wise, between the different faculties and departments within UvA to democratize the university, and decentralize decision-making -this in order to ensure that the goals of education and research are served by management instead of the other way round. Personally, meeting with students, teachers and researchers form other disciplines and experiencing how different approaches can mesh and become part of the same movement has taught me more about the value of interdisciplinary approaches than any academic discussion.
  2. We also have to join forces education-wise against ‘Den Haag’. That means joining forces, (a) between different universities together and (b) between those involved in primary, secondary, and higher education more generally. In that respect we need to demand an end to the politics of austerity and an increase in government spending on education.
  3. In the third place we have to join forces labor-wise between white collar as well as blue collar professionals, i.e. between all those whose work has been subjected to industrial regimes of quantification, targeting, and top down control, which now not only prevail in the blue collar, but also in the white collar world.
  4. We will also need to discuss and take action on income differentials and flexcontracts. Referring to the university as a ‘community’ is only possible when income differentials aren’t too high. The same goes for flex-contracts. When 55 % of those teaching within the UvA have flex-contracts without any decent career-prospects, and can be fired at whim, then there is something deeply wrong this institution. D.Nu has shown that in terms of organizational capacity it can be the equal of the CVB: so why should members of the CVB earn the salaries they do? As far as income-differentials are concerned, a case can be made that the differential between the highest paid and the lowest paid should be no greater than, say, 7 to 1. As to the temporary job-structure, new forms of flexibility will have to be devised. Finally, given the rise of the app-economy, aptly symbolized by Uber, we will also have to protect the university from becoming the next app in a service-economy where education becomes free but educators become transformed into the meagerly paid servants of the rich.
  5. We also need to join forces in order maintain the independence of the university: a university should not receive more than a limited proportion of its research funding from companies or individuals for whom it is working directly; and a significant proportion of the research should be entirely free of all economic and intellectual strings, so that the humanities and pure sciences can have a place. We need a fundamental debate on how research is financed through the “eerste, tweede en derde geldstroom”.
  6. Finally Rethink has to further develop its position papers on teaching, research, the temporary job structure at the UvA, and on democracy. In the coming weeks these papers deserve to be more widely discussed.