Titus Stahl

News from Amsterdam university protests

The protests against neoliberal university governance in Amsterdam have apparently been quite successful – the University has agreed that two commissions will be formed the members of which are to be chosen by the protesting students and faculty and the recommendations of which will be binding.

In a new article, Nicholas Vrouzalis, Robin Celikates, Johan Hartle and Enzo Rossi lay out the strategy for bringing similar changes to the national level.

Indeed, a constant sticking point in the forthcoming negotiations is likely to be the content of Dutch law pertaining to university administration. And this is where the plot thickens: short of changing a set of 1997 laws (the auspiciously labeled Modernisering Universitaire Bestuursorganisatie), staff and students cannot get full democracy at their place of work—at least not without transgressing the spirit of these laws.

It follows that, while the Amsterdam committees start their work, the movement for university self-government must increasingly look towards The Hague. The Maagdenhuis occupiers cannot win this wider fight alone: fighting a single university bureaucracy is one thing, fighting the Ministry of Education – until recently a driving force behind the neoliberalization of Dutch society – is another. Thankfully UvA is not alone. Students and staff from other Dutch universities already stand behind it and have started developing their own protest platforms, addressing problems from within their own academic communities that significantly overlap with the agenda of the movement in Amsterdam.