The editors have posted a statement on the website. “We, the editors of Cursor, have been experiencing a restriction of our freedom of press for some time now.” They describe the sacking of editor-in-chief Han Konings as a ‘sad conclusion’.

The problem allegedly began with the decision not to publish an article about a conflict of interests. The editorial board opposed publication, stating that the piece did not meet the ‘information needs of the TU/e community’. Cursor’s editors say the article was thoroughly checked and submitted for rebuttal, but great pressure was exerted to keep its contents out of the public eye.

Complaint filed

“The editor-in-chief decided not to publish the article under these circumstances because he was afraid of the consequences”, the editors state. The editor in question, Bridget Spoor, could not accept the decision. She filed a complaint with the university before the summer, which has yet to be dealt with substantively.

In response to questions, Spoor confirms that the reported conflict of interests involves a senior executive at the university. She is not at liberty to say more at this stage as she is currently collaborating with national daily de Volkskrant,which is due to publish a story on the issue soon.

Editor-in-chief Konings held the position for almost 22 years. So far he has declined to comment, other than confirming that it was not his choice to leave and expressing regret at the course of events.

The chair of the editorial board (and non-university member) is Frank Janssen, an expert on reputation and strategy. He could not be contacted this morning. TU/e was not answering the phone either.


The editors at Cursor are calling for a new, independent editorial board and want a say in the appointment of the new editor-in-chief. They also want a review of the editorial statute to ensure their independence.

These demands have met with support from the association of editors-in-chief for higher education media. The association’s chair, Ries Agterberg, points out that independent editors are not supposed to submit articles to an editorial board before publication in any case.

“This conflict has been going on for a number of years”, says Agterberg, who is editor-in-chief at Utrecht University news platform DUB. “We previously addressed the matter in a letter to the university.” In his view, the current president of the TU/e Executive Board, Robert-Jan Smits, does not see the value of an independent journalistic medium at his university.

“A university is an academic community”, Agterberg insists, “and that includes transparency and debate. What do students and staff need to know? And there are times when what they need to know is something other than what the board wants them to hear. An independent news medium ensures that the information provided is reliable.”


The association of chief editors plans to review the editorial statutes of the various university magazines, Agterberg says, now that the statutes in Eindhoven appear to have offered the editors little protection. “That is important. In recent years, there have been no real problems at other institutions, but these statutes obviously exist for those times when things are not going as they should and as such they need to provide a clear frame of reference.”

Similar conflicts have emerged in the past. But in 2017, then Minister of Education Jet Bussemaker saw no reason to investigate media independence in higher education. She also saw little point in introducing legal guarantees for independence, as proposed by the Socialist Party at the time.

Het Academiegebouw in Groningen

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