Launch of national platform for threatened academics
Academics regularly face threats, harassment and hate speech. To address this issue, Universities of the Netherlands (UNL), the Dutch Research Council (NWO) and the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) are launching the platform WetenschapVeilig today. Academics who are being threatened or harassed can visit this website (www.wetenschapveilig.nl) 24 hours a day for help. UNL President Pieter Duisenberg: ‘Academics fulfil a crucial social function. It is unacceptable that they should have to face threats, harassment and hate speech in their work. This has an enormous impact on our people, and we view such threats as an attack on academic freedom. With the launch of WetenschapVeilig, we wish to support our academics as best as possible.’
The primary aim of WetenschapVeilig is to ensure that academics who are dealing with threats or aggression can get the right help within their institution as quickly as possible.
Many universities have special teams with security specialists, HR staff, lawyers, communications officers and other experts to assist academics in the event of threats and harassment. With the new hotline, institutions are hoping to make it easier for threatened academics to access the helplines within their institution. Academics can submit a report on wetenschapveilig.nl, which will be securely forwarded to their employer. The employer will then contact the reporter(s) within one working day to determine what type of help is appropriate and available. In addition, there is a 24/7 emergency line that academics can call in urgent situations. The website also contains useful tips for academics, staff and employers. The universities and participating institutions will monitor the reports received via WetenschapVeilig and will also be collaborating more intensively and sharing their expertise on this theme.
Unfortunately, recent years have shown that we desperately need to take measures to better protect and support academics. Online hate messages, physical threats and harassment at home: too many academics are dealing with these issues. Duisenberg: ‘Our democratic values will be undermined if this prevents academics from taking part in public debate.’ Last year, all universities took a joint position, which includes reporting threats, violence, stalking and burglary to the police as standard.
The official launch of WetenschapVeilig will be held on 7 November, attended by academics and the Minister of Education, Culture and Science, Robbert Dijkgraaf. The platform is supported by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science. WetenschapVeilig is for everyone who is affiliated with one of the participating organisations.
For more information about how WetenschapVeilig works, visit the Frequently Asked Questions page: wetenschapveilig.nl/veelgesteldevragen.