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Demonstrations and protests have been taking place recently on UvA campuses, resulting in many questions. Here you can find answers to the questions asked most frequently. This page is updated regularly.
On the campus
  • What is the UvA doing for students and staff who feel unsafe?

    The safety of everyone on campus is paramount. That’s why the university is working closely with the police to create a safe environment. Currently there are no clear signals indicating disruptions that would pose a risk to staff and students. We are extra alert and will take immediate action should these signals change.

    This doesn’t change the fact that the possibility of a protest can also create an unsafe feeling. We’re committed to supporting everyone affected by recent events. The following resources are available:

    In case of an emergency
    In the event of an immediate physical threat or emergency, call security.

    020 525 2222
    This number is not intended for general, non-urgent questions about safety.

    Staff

    • Do you have questions or concerns? Are you experiencing problems in your work? You can discuss this with your supervisor.
    • Are you in distress? Please contact staff welfare services or Slachtofferhulp Nederland (victim support services outside the UvA).
    • You can always contact a confidential adviser.
    • Do you want to file a complaint about police brutality? You can find more information on the police website.

    Students

    There are different people you can approach, such as a study adviser, a student psychologist or a confidential adviser. Read more on the student site.

    Gatherings

    Discussions are being organised at various places within the UvA providing an opportunity to talk about recent events. Keep an eye on the events listings of your study programme or workplace.

  • What meetings is the UvA organising to talk about recent events?

    Within the UvA, talks are being organised at various locations for students and staff in which there will be opportunities to talk about recent events. Keep an eye on the agenda of your study or workplace.

    • Online drop-in hour: Starting from Tuesday, 21 May, the Central Diversity Office, the Teaching and Learning Centre and the confidential advisers will host an online drop-in hour from 11:00 to 12:00 every weekday, providing a safe environment to share concerns, experience and perspectives. The online drop-in hour is scheduled to run at least until the end of May and will be extendend beyond that, if needed. Participate via this link.
    • Starting on 23 May, the Central Diversity Office will organise six Campus Dialogue Lunch Sessions. Aimed at restoring trust and learning to deal with disagreements on campus.
  • How can I keep myself informed as a student or staff member?

    We advise students to keep an eye on the communication channels of their programme. We advise staff to talk to their supervisor, even though in a lot of cases they will not have all the information yet either.

  • Opening of buildings

    All UvA locations are open again according to normal opening hours.

  • How will the UvA deal with any study delays caused by the protests?

    If the events surrounding the protest affect your study progress, please contact a study adviser.

  • How do I start a conversation with my students about the impact of the demonstrations on campus?

    For lecturers looking for tips on how to get a conversation going about the impact of the demonstrations, the Teaching & Learning Center offers tools and support.

Demonstrations
  • Has the UvA been in contact with activists?

    Yes, from the first demonstration on Monday, 6 May there has been continuous contact between the activists and delegations from the UvA. On Wednesday, 8 May, two talks were held between the activists and the UvA Executive Board.

    Despite commitment and willingness on both sides to hold the talks, there was no room for negotiation within the demands formulated by the activists. And the UvA cannot meet all the demands.

    The board will remain in dialogue with students and staff on how we can move towards each other and continue the debate together.

    Read the extensive response of the board to the demonstrators' demands.

  • Why did the UvA engage in conversation with masked activists?

    Also on Wednesday, May 8, the Executive Board engaged in several talks with a number of students and employees. They represented the activists. During the talks, some students wore face coverings and were thus unrecognisable to the board. Because the lecturers present knew these students, the board assumed they were talking to UvA students. Talking to people with face coverings is highly undesirable; the board only did so in this case in an extreme attempt to de-escalate the situation around the Oudemanhuispoort and the Binnengasthuisterrein.

  • What were the activists' demands?

    The representatives of the activists had three demands in the week of 6 May:

    • Full disclosure of all lines of communication with Israeli institutions and companies.
    • Stopping all academic cooperation with Israeli institutions that participate in genocide, apartheid and colonial violence.
    • Ending all contracts with companies that profit from genocide, apartheid and exploitation of the Palestinian people.

    To these demands, the activists attached a two-day ultimatum on Wednesday, 8 May, after the occupation of the Oudemanhuispoort and a building at the location Binnengasthuis.

  • How has the UvA responded to the activists' demands?

    The UvA published an overview of all collaborations in which Israeli research groups participate (and thus not a list of names of individual academics), in order to comply with one of the demands. This is information that was already in the public domain.

    To maintain a dialogue on dilemmas surrounding the war, the UvA will organise a dialogue session on the framework for cooperation with third parties. That dialogue session will be similar to previous dialogue sessions around cooperation with the fossil fuel sector. 

    Finally, it was suggested that the BG4 building be made available as a debate centre.

  • Why were the demonstrations ended?

    Demonstrating is allowed and at the UvA there is always room for protests, but without face coverings, blockades, overnight stays or an atmosphere of intimidation. Read more about the course of the demonstrations and efforts that were made to reach a dialogue.

  • How much damage did the demonstrations cause?

    During the demonstrations on the Roeterseiland Campus and at the UvA locations Oudemanhuispoort and Binnengasthuis, considerable damage was caused. The amount of damage caused on 7 and 8 May is currently estimated at €1.5 M. 

    Damage caused on 13 May and damage caused to municipal property, and to businesses or individuals has not yet been included in this estimate.

  • Will the UvA recover damages from activists? 

    We don't know that yet. Right now we are looking more closely - in consultation with various parties - at whether and how those damages can be recovered. We will come back to that later.

  • What is the role of the police in demonstrations?

    On their website, the police say the following: ‘The police accompany demonstrations at the request of the mayor to ensure safety for demonstrators and the surrounding area. De-escalation is the focus of any actions.’ And: ‘The police act when offences are committed, agreements made are not kept or the health of demonstrators or bystanders is at risk.'

    Read more in Dutch on the police website.

  • What does the UvA do when a protest occurs?

    The UvA's commitment is always to ensure that the protest is peaceful. We try to maintain a dialogue with demonstrating students and staff. But house rules also apply. No face coverings, no overnight stays. We don't want an atmosphere of intimidation on campus, nor any vandalism. If that’s not possible or these house rules are broken, we ask demonstrators to leave. In case of disruptions, threats or signs of them, the police are informed. At this point it is only communication between organisations. In principle nothing happens, when informing. The police sometimes visit to assess the situation for themselves.

  • When are the police called in?

    If a demonstration takes place on UvA grounds or in a UvA building, the university will call in the help of the police if our own security is not sufficient, or if things happen that lie outside their authority. The competent authority (public prosecutor and/or mayor) can ultimately decide whether and how the police should act. The UvA’s only role here is to inform and assess the risks to the UvA.

    Read more (in Dutch) on the police website.

  • When does the UvA file a report? And what does that mean?

    If demonstrators do not follow the rules, they are first warned by the UvA and then, if necessary, by the police. Demonstrators are thereby asked to leave by a university representative. A report is filed if offenses are committed by protesters, or have been committed, such as vandalism or burglary. The UvA also files a report if people's safety is at stake (for example, if areas or emergency exits are blocked) and if people refuse to leave UvA premises after closing time.

  • What happens if the police are called in?

    The police say the following about this on their own website: ‘If protesters do not obey the rules, they are first warned by the organisation and by the police. If the protesters do not listen, we order them to leave by order of the mayor. If they do not, the mayor can ban the demonstration.’

    Read more (in Dutch) on the police website.

  • What the police can and cannot do

    The police say the following on their own website: ‘In extreme cases, the police may use force. This use of force is subject to strict conditions and is always reviewed afterwards. The use of force must always be proportionate. That is, it must be as moderate as possible and proportionate to the seriousness of the offences committed and the resistance given by suspects. All force used by the police is recorded and reviewed.’

    Read more (in Dutch) on the police website.

  • Can the UvA decide how the police act?

    No, how the police act is not up to the UvA.

  • What happens if you are arrested? Can the UvA do anything about it?

    The police say the following about this on their own website: ‘If we issue directions to the public and people do not follow them, this can lead to criminal charges. Demonstrators can be arrested for violating the Public Events Act (WOM) or for other offences they commit (vandalism, overt violence, assaulting police officers, etc.).’

    Read more (in Dutch) on the police website.

About international collaborations
  • What ties does the UvA have with Israel?

    The UvA has three so-called Memoranda of Understanding: one agreement for the exchange of 4, one of 6 and one of 8 students per year. One agreement is with the University of Tel Aviv and another with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the third with Ben Gurion University. None of the outgoing exchanges are currently active due to a negative travel advice from the Foreign Ministry.

    In addition, UvA researchers participate in eight European research projects in which Israeli researchers or companies also participate.

    You can read more about our collaborations with Israeli organisations here.

  • Will the UvA break these ties?

    We are very reluctant to limit institutional and individual collaborations. We see in collaboration with individual Israeli collaborators, provided the nature of the collaboration is in line with our academic mission, an opportunity to keep an open line of communication, so-called science diplomacy, even in times of war and conflict. Severing or suspending all ties also means severing relationships with researchers who often represent the critical voice in Israel.

    In the coming period, we will continue the internal discussion on the ethical framework and collaboration with external parties (especially focused on countries in war situations). We will do this in three steps: sharpen, test, decide. We’ll do this in the coming weeks, in close consultation with all stakeholders. This approach is comparable to the dialogue sessions we organised previously around the topic of collaboration with the fossil fuel industry.

    You can read more about strengthening collaboration with external parties in war zones, and how you as a student or employee can play a role in this at 'Collaborating with organisations in war zones'.  

  • Why is the UvA not taking a stand in the conflict?

    We share the anger and bewilderment felt about the war. However, the UvA is not a political organisation. Our university should provide a home for debate and criticism, with consideration for everyone's input, background and beliefs, and with an eye for our academic values. We cannot properly fulfil that function if we, as an organisation take an explicit stance ourselves.

  • What is the UvA doing for students and staff from the Palestinian territories and Israel?

    The UvA has set up a fund to provide assistance in various ways. We offer financial assistance to UvA students from the Palestinian territories or Israel who are in financial need because of the war. We also want to give students and scientists from Gaza the opportunity to come and study and work at the UvA. Read more about this fund.

  • Why did the UvA cut ties with Russia?

    In March 2022, the UvA, together with other universities, the KNAW, the NWO and university medical centres, decided to freeze formal and institutional collaborations with educational and knowledge institutions in Russia and Belarus until further notice. That decision followed an urgent call to do so by the Dutch Minister of Education and Culture (OCW) in line with the extensive sanctions package announced by the European Union. Certain forms of cooperation have now been formally banned .  

    Because many collaborations in education and research are based on peer-to-peer relationships, and many Russian and Belarusian researchers have publicly criticised the invasion of Ukraine at the risk of their own lives, research institutions gave their staff some freedom to maintain existing personal contacts with these researchers - where appropriate.  

    You can read more about this decision in the statement (in Dutch) of Universiteiten van Nederland (UNL). 

    The situation now is different from 2022, when EU sanctions preceded the joint decision of all universities. Severing or suspending all ties with Israel also means severing the open line of communication with researchers who in fact often constitute the country’s critical voice. The UvA values this kind of academic diplomacy - even in times of war and conflict - provided that the nature of the cooperation is in line with our academic mission. 

    Read more about UvA's collaboration with Israeli research groups.

  • Students demand that universities ‘divest from Israel’. What do they mean by this?

    One of the demands made by students worldwide is that 'universities divest from Israel'. Divestment means reversing, or disposing of, an investment. So students are calling on universities to withdraw funds they have invested in organisations and companies linked to Israel.

  • What does ‘divest from Israel’ mean for the UvA in practice?

    Nothing. In the US context, the call is concrete. There, students want universities and their endowment funds to actually divest. Since the UvA has no investments in Israel, it cannot ‘divest’.

  • Does the UvA have a direct financial benefit from collaborating with organisations and companies linked to Israel?

    No. The UvA has no examples of collaboration with organisations and companies linked to Israel from which the UvA direct benefits financially.

  • What is the major difference with American universities where the demand to divest first emerged?

    The main difference between Dutch and American universities is the method of funding. Dutch universities are largely publicly funded, while American universities are mostly privately funded. Private funding for American universities comes not only from very high tuition fees, but also from donations from wealthy individuals. Almost every US university has an ‘endowment fund’ that holds huge sums of money from endowments.

    For example, Columbia University's endowment fund has $13.6 billion. The call from students in the US to divest from companies linked to Israel is not directed at the universities (which have no investments themselves), but at these endowment funds. While Dutch universities also do fundraising (through foundations), this is not at all comparable in scale to US endowment funds. The Amsterdam University Fund is one such foundation: small in size and with no financial investments in Israel.

More information  

For current information about the demonstrations, go to uva.nl/protests.