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Dozens of safety measures for academics

UNL, KNAW and NWO have published a monitor on external intimidation, hatred and threats against academics

Between November 2022 and December 2023, a total of 45 one-off and 14 structural safety measures were taken for academics or university staff. This was one of the findings of the Monitor for external intimidation, hatred and threats against academics, published today by the Universities of the Netherlands (UNL), the Dutch Research Council (NWO) and the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW). UNL President Caspar van den Berg says, “It is appalling and unacceptable for academics to have to worry about their safety after sharing their research results. The monitor shows how important it is that we all continue to stand behind our academics.” Because academics’ safety has been under threat for some time, the UNL, NWO and KNAW launched the SafeScience (WetenschapVeilig) platform in November 2022. Staff who have received threats can contact SafeScience to be referred to the right person within their institution.

The monitor, produced by Technopolis, provides insight into the extent to which the staff of knowledge institutions have to deal with external hatred, intimidation and threats. Several dozen reports have been made to WetenschapVeilig since its launch in November 2022. These are just some of the total number of threats and hatred because many recipients report this directly to universities, for example to managers, HR staff or security advisers. The monitor shows that women and young researchers are particularly vulnerable and are more frequently the recipient of intimidation, hate and threats.

Examples of the 59 security measures taken include taking people’s contact information offline and moving staff elsewhere. In some instances universities also hired extra security and helped staff file a police report. Such measures have major personal consequences for our staff members, as well as their families, friends and colleagues.

When academics no longer dare to engage in public debate through mainstream media, social media or other means, one of the most important voices in that debate disappears. If the public no longer hear about academic insights, it impoverishes debate and the democratic process.

Over the next few months, WetenschapVeilig will work to identify effective measures and share them with the participating institutions. The monitor shows that staff also feel a need for this. The UNL Handbook (in Dutch) ‘Addressing Threats to and Intimidation of Academics’ (Aanpak bedreiging en intimidatie van wetenschappers) already provides guidance on this issue.  NOS.  

Read the monitor and more information

On the UNL-website you can read the monitor (in Dutch). Please find more information on the website of  Universiteiten van Nederland and the website WetenschapVeilig. Op 7 November 2022 NWO-I published a news item about the launch of the platform Safe Science (WetenschapVeilig)

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