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.
Many full professors chose to wear their ceremonial robes, which are traditionally worn at the academy’s most formal occasions, such as PhD defenses.
Professors wearing robes and silly hats also decorated them with the red square, symbolizing their solidarity with the international student movement.
The area before student cafe CREA filled up quickly with staff members and students.
The entire group of staff and students united behind a sign reading ‘Executive Board, Resign’.
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.
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.
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.
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.
After 20 minutes of short speeches, the group started moving calmly towards the city center.
Large numbers of photographers and news crews kept asking the procession to stop so they could get a better picture.
It was a beautiful spring day in Amsterdam and spirits in the group were high.
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.
Students at the front of the procession, also dressed up to give an appropriately scholarly impression, were constantly being interviewed by roving reporters.
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).
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.
Students and staff were extremely pleased to welcome the protesting refugees in their midst.
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.
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.