Today we have come to an agreement concerning the establishment of two independent committees. One committee will investigate the financial situation of the university, while another will explore options for a new democratic and decentralized governance structure. This is a direct result of the protests in the past weeks and a major achievement of the movements that strive for reform of the University of Amsterdam (UvA).

The constructive potential of grassroots involvement

Together with our partners, we have strongly pressed for including the whole academic community in the process of forming and assigning tasks to the committees. The constructive potential of such bottom-up involvement has already been demonstrated by the ordinary staff members and students whose efforts have brought us so far in the first place.

ReThink UvA captures that grassroots constructive potential. We are an informal gathering of such ordinary staff members from all corners of the university and we each contribute in our own way to a common goal: giving back the UvA to students and staff. As such, it is only natural for us to facilitate the direct input of all UvA staff members in decisions regarding the establishment of the two envisioned committees.

We therefore invite all our colleagues to the ReThink UvA General Assemblies to put forward proposals and voice concerns and criticism regarding the composition and assignment of the committees. The next general assembly is on Friday, 3 April, 15.00h, in the Maagdenhuis.

The first chapter of a process of change

The establishment of the two committees is only the first chapter of a process of change at the UvA. We have ensured that steps are taken with regard to our demands for commencing a) an independent investigation of the financial situation and b) a process of democratization and decentralization at the UvA.

Our other demands were not on the agenda of the recent meetings with the Executive Board, but retain their importance and urgency. While holding on to our demand regarding the moratorium on restructuring processes, institutional mergers, and plans for UvA property, we will continue our efforts towards:

  • Shifting the weight from one-size-fits-all output evaluation to discipline-level quality evaluation, involving a correspondent revision of the financial model;
  • Fostering a genuine academic environment where research and teaching are combined and equally valued;
  • Reducing overall work pressure and defining equitable workloads in teaching, research, and administration;
  • Creating visible, accessible, and sustainable paths to career development for temporary and permanent staff alike, excluding all kinds of legal constructions aimed at circumventing labor rights and regulations;
  • Ensuring that the principles of democracy, transparency, and labor rights are applied to all units of the university, including UvA Holding.

Arriving at these changes is contingent upon the participation of the academic community at the departmental, faculty and university level. The pivotal lesson learned from the past months is that we, the academic community, can make change happen.