The questions relate to the rainbow crossing, a diversity & inclusion toolkit for student associations, the use of personal pronouns, the teaching in the Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Studies (ESSB) and the website of his party Liberi Erasmi being blocked by the university firewall.
The things Ramcharan would like to know include whether or not the Executive Board understands ‘that not every student or employee is comfortable with ideological symbols being institutionalized on campus such as this rainbow crosswalk on behalf of the university’ or with ‘biologically controversial forms of self-identification [such as non-binary pronouns, ed.] being institutionalised at EUR’.
Ramcharan, who represents the Liberi Erasmi party on the Council, presented the questions to the rest of the Council on Tuesday. He prefaced his speech with a claim that fellow members of the Council were spreading ‘lies’ about him. For example, some members of the Council had allegedly said that he is a member of the Forum for Democracy or has voted for that party. They had also allegedly said that he is a ‘polariser’ and a ‘homophobe’ – charges that he strenuously denies.
‘A waste of time’
Council Chair Ivonne Cune-Noten asked the other members to express a view on the questions and on whether or not the Council should submit it to the Executive Board. Some members were very troubled by the list of questions and requested that Ramcharan withdraw it. Some Council members called the entire discussion a ‘waste of the Council’s time’, while others referred to certain questions as ‘ridiculous’ or ‘insane’.
A few members of the Council felt that he had some ‘valid points’ but that this list of questions was not the right way of going about raising these. They did not clarify which points they deemed valid. Two student members lamented the fact that Ramcharan had refused their offer of assistance in drawing up the questions, which he said was down to a misunderstanding. His two fellow party members stated that they fully support him.
Some Council members wanted to avoid the questions being posed on behalf of the Council at all costs. As it happens, this was not Ramcharan’s intention, as he had intended to submit the list of questions independently. Nonetheless, the rules of procedure stipulate that any document destined for the Executive Board must first be run past the University Council’s presidium, which is entitled to decide that it will not be submitted. It then passes back to the Council for a vote, thus enabling the Council to oppose Ramcharan’s initiative and making it jointly responsible in the case of submission.
Council member Sebastiaan Kamp wondered out loud whether the rules of procedure are in breach of the Higher Education and Scientific Research Act. Kamp, who in no way supports the submission of the list of questions, suggested that the Act entitles an individual member of the Council to submit written questions to the Executive Board. The Council was unable to reach agreement on this during the meeting.
The debate in the Council culminated in a request that Ramcharan amend his document. Ramcharan will reflect on this request.