The journalistic research into experiences of diversity and inclusion at 19 research universities and universities of applied sciences throughout the nation has been discontinued in the wake of a publication on GeenStijl. Last Thursday, the website published an article entitled Non-binary Poll Fuck! Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences wants to measure your inclusivity, in which readers were called upon to fill in the diversity survey.
The article included a link to Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences’ questionnaire. Comments under the article soon shared links to surveys being conducted for the 18 other participating research universities and universities of applied sciences.
It is highly likely that the surveys will have attracted a considerable volume of responses from individuals not associated with these institutions from the point at which the publication was posted on GeenStijl. Hence, the data will have been compromised and cannot be used.
Research firm Newcom, which was commissioned to conduct the survey by the Kring van Hoofdredacteuren Hoger Onderwijs Media (Circle of Editors-in-chief of Higher Education Media), decided to stop collecting data, because people were still responding to GeenStijl’s call to fill in the survey. The research firm is no longer in a position to guarantee the quality and reliability of the survey. According to a spokesperson, “On reflection, the only course of action available to us is to recommend immediately discontinuing the data collection for the Diversity Monitor. The quality and reliability of the data are of paramount importance to us. Last week’s developments mean we cannot give a 100% guarantee with regard to the reliability of the data.”
The Circle of Editors-in-chief supports this decision. President of the Circle Ries Agterberg: “The fact that GeenStijl has used an article to sabotage a meticulous, neutral survey is disgraceful. The survey was actually intended to explore the experiences and opinions of staff and students on this topic. To what extent do they support the diversity policy of research universities and universities of applied sciences? This is a perfectly legitimate question. It was certainly not intended to inculcate a particular point of view. Abandoning the survey before completion has denied us an opportunity to assess these experiences.”
In consultation with Newcom, it has been decided that the questionnaires completed prior to the GeenStijl article will still be processed and that the questionnaires submitted subsequent to the article will be scanned for anecdotes from the participating institutions. Agterberg: “We would like to thank all the staff and students who took the trouble to fill in our questionnaire. All questionnaires will be checked, and the anecdotes shared by staff and students will be perused and processed. Those anecdotes will not go to waste.”
The survey forms part of large-scale research conducted by virtually all independent media run by research universities and universities of applied sciences in the Netherlands. To this end, the Circle of Editors-in-chief received a subsidy from the Dutch Journalism Fund.
At any rate, the results of the qualitative survey on the institutions’ diversity policy will be published by the higher education media in December.