Demands to the University of Amsterdam Executive Board (ReThink UVA)

Rethink UvA – Moving Forward

Demands to the University of Amsterdam Executive Board
4 March, 2015
At present, ever more decisions are taken at the UvA by managers who are removed from the concerns and needs of students and staff, and do not answer to them for those decisions. Without assuming there is one template that fits each and every program, department, institute, or faculty, we call for the democratization and decentralization of the UvA’s governance structure, in order to allow the academic community to govern itself honestly and responsibly.
While we embark on a thorough discussion of how best to meet this goal, we demand:

  1. An immediate moratorium on restructuring processes, negotiations and sale of UvA property, and institutional mergers;
  2. That the CvB immediately agrees to initiate a detailed proposal on how it intends to facilitate a democratization of the UvA and restore the relations of trust it has undermined, or else resign from their posts;
  3. To initiate a full investigation by an independent committee of the university’s financial policies and current state of affairs.

These are preconditions for, not a consequence of, a university-wide discussion, which must result in the implementation of the following processes:

  1. Shifting the weight of a quantitative, output-based financial model to qualitative forms of evaluation, including peer and student review;
  2. Fostering a genuine academic environment where research and teaching are combined, and countering the present tendency to split these activities into a two-tier system that rewards the former at the expense of the latter;
  3. Defining equitable workloads in teaching, research, and administration, and creating visible and accessible paths to career development for temporary and permanent staff alike.

We call on the CvB to accept our demands for immediate actions (nos. 1-3) and agree unequivocally on the longer-term goals of the university (nos. 4-6) within two days, that is, until Friday 6 March, 2015, at 4pm. Otherwise, we will escalate our struggle, including but not limited to walk-outs, teach-ins, symbolic actions, petitions, occupation of UvA buildings and facilities, performances, gatherings, and strikes.

ReThink UvA is a forum of UvA employees who demand structural reforms in education and research. Output-focused management has severely compromised the quality of both university education and research. We endorse the objectives of the New University movement and ally ourselves with the platforms Humanities RallyScience in Transition and Reform Dutch Universities (H.NU).

ReThink UvA is a UvA-wide movement. We stand for the university as an academic community, and emphatically not as a business. In our university, students and staff contribute substantially to the decision-making process. Policy choices may not be based on financial returns, but should first and foremost be guided by scientific and societal needs.

ReThink UvA demands structural reform. All faculties are experiencing the symptoms of runaway output-oriented policies: increasing numbers of temporary contracts, funding being allocated based on the number of graduates or the number of publications, and the merger- and relocation-plans carried out without staff involvement or support. We must therefore change the current governance structure. Top-down management and output-oriented policies compromise the core goals of our university: quality education and research.

ReThink UvA provides a platform for this debate and for direct action. Together with the New University, our first focus will be on the fundamental problems within all faculties of the UvA, in the firm belief that other universities will recognize these issues and join forces in solidarity.
Join the discussion on social media (Twitter: @rethinkuva, FB: Rethink UvA) and help us spread our message.

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