The UvA CvB has brought about a bitter and violent escalation by ordering the recent eviction of the Festival of Science and Humanities at the Maagdenhuis (11 April 2015). As a flurry of petitions and letters seeking the board’s resignation have underscored, and as the numerous participants at yesterday’s march have shown, that outrageous move is widely seen as integral to a wider strategy of intimidation and deceit. It has proven that the current CvB has irrevocably lost its legitimacy in the eyes of numerous members of the university community, and we personally hope to see these individuals depart from their positions soon. Who, however, will they be replaced by and under what terms is an equally burning matter.

For it is not only faulty decisions taken by arrogant individuals that are to blame for the current situation. In the hierarchical structure of the university governance one has to go through several promotions to become a top-manager. In this process, social as well as bureaucratic necessities push people to adopt certain attitudes, to communicate in managerial language, and to achieve targets that are often defined by people with little expertise and knowledge in teaching and research. In a top-down management system even the most dedicated co-workers will likely make decisions that do a disservice to their communities to satisfy their upper managers’ requests. Accordingly what needs to be changed is the university’s managerial culture, rather than the university governance structure and the identity of those currently occupying its middle and top ranks.

We would therefore like to propose the following guidelines:

  1. UvA Management Culture
    • To ensure the UvA is run for and by the university community and in a spirit of diversity, cooperation, and inclusivity, the UvA will encourage rotation of management positions and tasks among the academic and non-academic staff, as opposed to accepting career trajectories that increase the distance between management on the one hand and teaching and research staff on the other. Breaks between management stints are to be the prescribed rule, not the tolerated exception, and an emphasis on people’s skills should prevail over academic rank.
    • From now on, members of the UvA CvB will receive no more than the regular salary of a full professor according to their age and experience, plus 5%. The balance, if such would remain, will be donated directly to fund BA and MA scholarship, and PhD salaries. Moreover, CvB members may not, without the university community’s annual approval (see 1c), assume multiple management, consulting, and other duties, paid or unpaid, which fall beyond the ex officio duties of their office’s remit. They will likewise refrain from seeking the accouterments of private-sector managers.
    • The UvA CvB will henceforth present an annual report of its activities on 25 February (Liberation of Maagdenhuis Day) in an assembly open and accessible to the academic community. The assembly will be a formal and binding occasion to debate the CvB’s performance openly and to ratify or withdraw the academic community’s trust in the CvB.
    • The constitution of the UvA Oversight Board (RvT) will be amended to reflect a much broader public participation than is visible today, with elected representatives and power of recall by the academic community. The RvT should portray the same diversity of the academic community and must be structurally separate from the CvB to avoid potential conflict of interests.
  2. Het Maagdenhuis
    The ground and bottom floor of the Maagdenhuis will remain a space shared by the university and the general community and dedicated to the promotion of critical thinking and democracy. Its normal operating hours will be extended on weekdays to 10pm and on weekends between 11am to 5pm. A committee of five members in charge of the space’s programming, use, and maintenance will be elected from among the academic community annually on 25 February. It will comprise of two representatives of the student body (one BA and one MA student), one PhD candidate, a non-academic staff member, and an academic staff member. Rooms at the Maagdenhuis will be reserved for the administration of these activities, which in themselves do not have to be limited to the building.
  3. National Issues
    The UvA CvB will commit itself to taking an active and leading role in bringing the grievances of the academic community nationally to the public’s attention and work jointly with Dutch universities to lobby for and implement national policies that promote decentralization, reverse the toxic trend separating research and teaching, increase students’ material and intellectual wellbeing, and provide nourishing work environments for all members of the academic community. Should there be a conflict between the interests of the university community and new regulations, the CvB should openly and publicly announce the origins of this conflict and respond properly after deliberation with the elected representatives of the university community.