Photo Report of our Academic Protest March

The academic protest march, organized jointly by ReThink UvA, De Nieuwe Universiteit, Humanities Rally, and University of Color, was a huge success. Over 1500 members of Amsterdam’s academic community gathered on the UvA’s REC complex for a short series of speeches, then peacefully made their way towards the city center and the university’s Binnengasthuis area. These snapshots give an impression of the march’s events and atmosphere.
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Many full professors chose to wear their ceremonial robes, which are traditionally worn at the academy’s most formal occasions, such as PhD defenses.

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Professors wearing robes and silly hats also decorated them with the red square, symbolizing their solidarity with the international student movement.

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The area before student cafe CREA filled up quickly with staff members and students.

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The entire group of staff and students united behind a sign reading ‘Executive Board, Resign’.

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The first speaker was professor of Anthropology Amade M’charek, who spoke of the main reasons why so many staff members no longer have any faith in this board.

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Then, one of the students who had been arrested by the riot police gave a rousing account of what it’s like to be forcefully detained for giving someone a hug.

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Assistant professor of Anthropology Julie McBrien gave a moving ‘auto-ethnography’ of her experience as a staff member who had unsuccessfully tried to use her authority to keep the police from harming the students.

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Historian George Blaustein treated the crowd to an abbreviated version of the witty and eloquent chronicle he wrote recently on his experience of the eviction.

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After 20 minutes of short speeches, the group started moving calmly towards the city center.

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Large numbers of photographers and news crews kept asking the procession to stop so they could get a better picture.

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It was a beautiful spring day in Amsterdam and spirits in the group were high.

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ReThink UvA delegates had arranged with the mayor’s office that we would have our own volunteers provide ‘self-policing’ in orange vests, so it wouldn’t be necessary to deploy mounted police or riot police in the direct vicinity.

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Students at the front of the procession, also dressed up to give an appropriately scholarly impression, were constantly being interviewed by roving reporters.

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I got to say a few words about the reasons for the protest on the evening news, looking both unusually respectable (because of the suit and tie) and completely ridiculous (because of the orange vest).

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As the march passed by city hall, a group of refugees who had been evicted from their shelter just this morning joined the procession and continued to march together in solidarity.

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Students and staff were extremely pleased to welcome the protesting refugees in their midst.

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When the group reached its endpoint on the Binnengasthuis complex, UvA professor of sociology and original ’69 Maagdenhuis occupier Abram de Swaan gave a rousing lecture.

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The large group of protesters easily filled the square. As the speeches and musical performance came to an end, most participants headed home on this lovely spring day.

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