Van Kolfschooten finds the investigation quite strange, because the article he wrote does not discuss any incidents that took place at Erasmus University. “The article is purely about incidents that occurred at the University of Amsterdam and Leiden University.”
However, one day after NRC published the story, EM posted a story on plagiarism in a policy document Van den Boom drew up in preparation for ESHCC’s merger, an incident not mentioned in Van Kolfschooten’s article. In an interview with EM, ESHCC-affiliated professor Arjo Klamer expressed a strong suspicion that someone at the faculty had ‘leaked information’.
EUR has announced that it will examine several ESHCC employees’ e-mails. Van Kolfschooten wonders to what extent this is legal. “I know that employers have the right to inspect e-mails, even secretly, but they must have very good grounds to do so. I wonder if that is the case here. Because why would the university have any reason to believe that its employees were in touch with me regarding an article that is not about Erasmus University?”
Subjected to an investigation
Moreover, Van Kolfschooten feels, this action by the university is making employees feel less safe. “After all, is any employee ever going to be brave enough to talk to a journalist again? Because they must now take into consideration that they may be subjected to a forensic examination. This perfectly illustrates the culture of fear at ESHCC, which the university itself is currently investigating. I think it’s outrageous that something like this should happen at a university.”
Outrageous indeed. But then, of course, this preposterous move by the Executive Board isn’t about the suspicion of leaking an alleged case of plagiarism in Dymph van der Boom’s report (to a newspaper that didn’t mention this particular case). If that were the case, the forensic team would equally be investigating ESSB (also in the know) and the Erasmus Magazine. This heavy-handed and costly maneuver has only one aim: carrying out a vendetta against a faculty that reasonably and politely argued against the Executive Boards’ predetermined decision to merge two schools into one. While a second report by the next interim dean is expected soon, the message is clear: dare to resist and we’ll try anything to crush you. The EB knowingly and willingly creates a culture of fear and intimidation. The mere fact that responses here (and to related news coverage) are incompletely signed or not signed at all, proves that at least in this respect the EB can celebrate a moderate success. Welcome to Academia. This concerns us all: if you plan to resist autocratic behavior, you can expect a disproportional punitive expedition. This, of nothing else, is a matter worthy to address in the University Council, though I hope that the Supervisory Board is aware of the grave implications here as well.