On Wednesday the 15th of May the NRC published an article about the long-term undesirable conduct of one of the professors appointed at our faculty. In accordance with the decision of the Court of Amsterdam issued on the 13th of May in the proceedings instituted by the professor in question, his name was not published by the NRC.
The UvA had already announced departure of the professor on the 7th of November 2018. The UvA reported that the work environment at the department had felt unsafe for a longer period of time. The NRC digs deeper into the matter.
‘It is distressing’, says André Nollkaemper, dean of the Amsterdam Law School. ‘During that period of time warning signs were missed, which allowed for this behavior to persist far too long. The faculty has the responsibility to organize itself in such a way that people’s ears and eyes are open, that people feel free to report it if they do not feel safe and that action will be taken if they do so. This clearly did not go well in this case.’
After the complaints were received in June 2018, an external investigation was immediately initiated. ‘It was of great importance for us to act decisively as well as carefully’, according to Nollkaemper. It was decided that there would be a thorough investigation procedure, including hearing both sides, which would be carried out by an independent and experienced bureau.
The final report was clear in its conclusions and provided sufficient reason for the UvA to proceed with the termination of his contract. The professor then decided to resign. In the article it is suggested that he would have received termination benefits. This is not the case.
When announcing his departure, the UvA made the decision to not provide any details because these would be easily traceable to those involved. The privacy of those involved was and is the first priority. The investigation report was not published since those involved testified on the basis of confidentiality.
Immediately after receiving the report, the faculty took several measures. In recent months, interim management has been appointed in the department in question and there have been conversations with all other department heads in order to prevent them from missing warning signs. Within the departments, meetings are being organized to stimulate the creation of an environment in which staff feel free to confront each other about behavior. Facilitating social safety is offered as a training for managers.
Social safety is a priority for the UvA, undesirable conduct will not be tolerated. There are 21 confidential counselors in total. Students and staff can go to them to report undesirable conduct. Additionally, the UvA has a complaints procedure and a complaints committee, which all students and staff may approach at any time. The existence of these options will be brought to the attention of students and staff even more.