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26 February 2024

Student Life
& Society

Website and hotline for academics under threat

Have you encountered threats, intimidation or aggression? From today, academics who feel unsafe can seek help by calling a special hotline or filing a report on the dedicated website wetenschapveilig.nl.

This new Safe Science platform was launched by the universities of the Netherlands, in cooperation with the Dutch Research Council (NWO) and the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW), at a special presentation attended by Education Minister Robbert Dijkgraaf and the academics behind the initiative.

The platform was announced one year ago in response to a rise in threats against academics made by conspiracy theorists, radical groups and social media trolls. It is modelled on PersVeilig, an existing initiative to assist journalists facing similar risks.

Huge impact

“It is unacceptable for academics to encounter threats, intimidation and hate speak in their work”, says Pieter Duisenberg, President of Universities of the Netherlands. “These threats have a huge impact on our people and we regard them as an attack on academic freedom.”

The platform has been designed to ensure that academics receive the right help as soon as possible. They will be able to contact a 24/7 emergency hotline and file a report on the website, which is forwarded to their employer. “The employer then contacts the person who has made the report within one working day”, the announcement pledges.

Academics under threat are then put in touch with security specialists, HR staff, lawyers, communications officers or other experts who can offer support and assistance.

Police report

University governors have consistently expressed their support for their academic staff. Last year, they made it known that without exception they would report all instances of threatening behaviour, violence, stalking, burglary or theft to the police. In his inaugural public address as Education Minister, Robbert Dijkgraaf also highlighted the need to ensure the safety of academics.

Translation: Taalcentrum-VU

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