In the opinion of the Dutch House of Representatives, it would be good for students to be educated about inappropriate sexual behaviour as early as the introduction weeks. Staff would also benefit from a course.
This is the gist of a motion tabled by PvdA, which was overwhelmingly adopted by the House of Representatives on Tuesday. The motion says the government is to explore “how education about inappropriate sexual behaviour can be anchored in both the introduction weeks and the curricula of all higher education institutions”.
The motion also states that Maastricht University is setting the right example by teaching first-year students about MeToo in the new academic year. The university will be incorporating the education on inappropriate sexual behaviour into the introduction weeks. According to the motion, this is “crucial for setting standards of behaviour”.
Parties across the entire political spectrum think it is a good idea to consider this theme. PVV, FvD, JA21 and Pieter Omtzigt were the only ones to vote against the motion.
When the motion was tabled last week, Education Minister Robbert Dijkgraaf said the Maastricht example appealed to him. In this respect, he endorses the “thought behind the motion”. He added that his policies already reflect this, giving the example of his support to the educational project ‘ben je oké’ (are you okay?) by centre of expertise Rutgers, under whose flag free workshops on sexuality will be taught to student associations and students in the upcoming introduction weeks.
But should the government make such education a compulsory part of the curricular? The minister is of the opinion that this would go against academic freedom. However, he didn’t want to reject the motion “if you’ll permit me to implement it in a different way, by talking to the institutions and bringing this initiative to their attention”. PvdA MP Songül Mutluer agreed to this.
A survey carried out by Amnesty International shows that 1 in 10 female students are raped in their student days. Following a series of incidents at student associations that received a great deal of media coverage, the associations have committed – at least on paper – to preventing inappropriate sexual behaviour. The association boards facilitate workshops and courses.
Earlier this month, Dijkgraaf promised to free up millions of euros to improve social safety at higher education institutions.