The Ministry of Education, Culture and Science has asked Government Commissioner Mariëtte Hamer for advice, claiming too little is currently known about sexually inappropriate behaviour at higher education institutions.
At the moment, Hamer is in talks with several parties in higher education. Later this year, her recommendations on improving reporting procedures and prevention of misconduct will be published.
Hamer currently serves as a special government commissioner tasked with combatting sexual misconduct and sexual violence. In August, she launched the student pact, as part of which student associations and organisations promised to start doing more against sexual misconduct.
Investigative journalism platform Argos recently discovered that the number of reports of sexually inappropriate behaviour at universities has more than doubled in the past four years. It is likely that this increase is partly due to the fact that the topic is easier to discuss these days.
New issues regularly make the news. Last week, Radboud University Rector Han van Krieken stepped down after regional newspaper De Gelderlander had revealed he made inappropriate comments to a female colleague in 2017. Furthermore, an investigation by television programme Pointer uncovered that three teachers at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam were guilty of misconduct. Two of them had been dismissed, while the other one had already retired.
Sexual misconduct at VU Amsterdam
At VU Amsterdam, sexual misconduct is also said to have occurred in the past: a Utrecht professor of clinical psychology, who was fired after only a year, misbehaved sexually during his time at VU Amsterdam, a VU professor told Ad Valvas. He said that he was “flabbergasted” by the professor’s explicit sexual language against a young woman. The psychologist was also alleged to have suggested to PhD students and lecturers to engage in sexual relationships. Eventually, the VU professor filed a complaint with his manager.