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June 13, 2020, a Dutch newspaper, the NRC Handelsblad, published an article on the inappropriate behavior of one of C&R’s faculty members, a lecturer book and paper conservation. As C&R staff, we wish to reach out to you, as former students, to express to you how awful we find this situation to be, and how deeply sorry we are that past and present students in our programme have been confronted with this.

We are profoundly upset by the justified feeling of anger and loss of faith in UvA as an institute that this situation has caused. The C&R team does not just want to be a group of people who say that a ‘safe study environment’ is important, we want to provide and guarantee this each and every day, in practice. And while the current situation focuses very much on one particular tutor, and one particular series of events, we want to ensure a safe study environment for our programme as a whole. To help us with this, if you as a former student have experienced any situations during your study with us that cause you worry, not necessarily  connected to this example, we would very much like to hear from you, or would like to urge you to notify someone outside C&R, for instance the independent ombudsfunctionaris.

As C&R team we really want to work hard to recover present and past students’ trust in us. We realize that we cannot expect this to happen in one go, but we see possibilities to restore this gradually. We informed our current students that we are taking a number of steps, steps which we would like to share with you as alumni too.

The first steps are:

  • The tutor concerned has been withdrawn from all teaching duties, he no longer gives lessons or supervises theses.
  • The University will instigate an external, independent investigation of events.
  • As C&R team we wish to facilitate small scale group Q&A Zoom sessions (per specialization, or per year) in which we can discuss the students’ concerns, address any problems and find practical solutions, and offer additional information where needed.
  • We have started individual discussions with students who now experience a gap in the supervision of their thesis. We have a complete team ready to ensure proper thesis guidance for each person.
  • We have found an external, independent counselor who is prepared and able to offer help to each student, if wished for. A person who can offer a safe route to express any concerns, complaints and/or suggestions, related to this tutor or on other matters related to social safety.
  • A letter clarifying events has been sent out to colleagues, organisations, businesses and other contacts in our working field, offering explanation and context. This will include an overview of measures taken to ensure that this course of affairs can never happen again.

Further steps:

  • In September and October workshops under professional guidance will take place for C&R tutors, with the aim to increase sensitivity and alertness for aspects of social safety. Also from the summer, intervision sessions will take place among the teaching staff. By means of this regular and frequent exchange of teaching experiences, we hope to be in a better position to detect dissatisfaction, conflict or worse at a much earlier stage, learn to talk about it more easily and to resolve issues in a  timely manner.
  • We will have a close look at the set-up of our curriculum and evaluation procedures to see where they can be improved in order to increase social safety (and would really appreciate any advice or help from you on this!)   
  • We will make sure that it becomes easier for C&R students to lodge complaints with an independent person, and that everyone knows how this process works. The UvA as organization is currently under great pressure to address shortcomings in the complaints procedure. The anticipated revisions will ensure that both students and staff will have new possibilities to address such problems on a larger scale.

Finally, we do hope that you will feel comfortable to let us or anyone in our  C&R team know any questions or concerns you may have, so that we are able to discuss these in confidence and in a timely manner among the persons  involved.

You can contact us via email at p.a.m.vanwijk@uva.nl  or  e.hendriks@uva.nl. If you prefer, contacting other staff members you know personally, is of course also an option. If contacting us directly seems too big a step, another route is via the confidential advisors or the ombudsfunctionaris.                                                     

On behalf of all of C&R staff,

Sincerely,

Piet van Wijk (Programme Director a.i.)
Ella Hendriks (Chair)

 

This statement was mailed to all alumni we could reach. Due to General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) we cannot reach all alumni. 
We ask all who want to be informed to register at secretariaat-CenR@uva.nl.

drs. P.A.M. (Piet) van Wijk

Programme Director a.i.

prof. dr. E. (Ella) Hendriks

Chair