Legal expert Bregje Dijksterhuis, who like Baudet graduated from Leiden University, believes he is abusing his scientific knowledge and authority. This can’t be prevented, notes Dijksterhuis in a recent opinion piece published on VU University’s Advalvas. “But we are free to resist and oppose it. It’s our duty as academics.”
Baudet: ‘We are being undermined by our universities’
The political party Forum voor Democratie won the most votes in the Dutch provincial…
In Groningen, an announced visit by prominent FvD member Paul Cliteur has also caused a stir. The Leiden-based legal expert and philosopher had been invited to speak during the event ‘Nacht van de Filosofie’, but some Groningers were less enthusiastic about the prospect. Speakers with controversial views shouldn’t be offered this kind of podium, critics say. Others believe that the entire purpose of a university is to provide room for debate.
Cliteur wonders whether this attitude actually befits the administrators of a Philosophy faculty. In an open letter to the rector of the University of Groningen, he writes: “Your dean Lodi Nauta was awarded a Spinoza grant to the amount of 2.5 million euros. Congratulations. But wasn’t Spinoza the very thinker known for the phrase libertas philosophandi: the freedom to philosophise?” Cliteur for one won’t be cancelling his appearance – and neither will the University of Groningen.
It’s hardly surprising that academics call FvD’s positions controversial. For some time now, Baudet has been accusing scholars of ‘leftist indoctrination’. According to him, this is ‘a routine practice’. Last month, the party even opened an indoctrination hotline to map out the scale and causes of this alleged problem.
Isn’t it time for the science association KNAW and academic association VSNU to explicitly register their opposition to Baudet’s claims? VSNU’s number one priority is academic freedom, according to its spokesperson Bart Pierik. “We felt strongly supported by the Minister’s response to Baudet’s statements in his victory speech.”
This aside, VSNU doesn’t see need to respond to what the FvD leader said ‘in the context of the elections’. According to Pierik, Baudet is welcome to drop by the Dutch universities more often – so he can see with his own eyes that they create ample opportunity for debate and diversity.
Nor does the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) as yet see any reason to respond to Baudet’s statements. Last week, KNAW concluded that scientists still have sufficient freedom to perform the research of their choice and aren’t stymied by self-censorship. “We try to keep our finger on the pulse when it comes to creating the right conditions for academic freedom – and will continue to do so.”