MAASTRICHT. For the time being, Dutch will continue to be spoken during hearings held by the Complaints Committee for Inappropriate Behaviour at Maastricht University. Foreign members of staff who do not speak the language, will have to hire an interpreter themselves. As this concerns an ‘umbrella regulation’ in which three institutes – UM, Zuyd Hogeschool and Open Universiteit – are involved, the UM’s Executive Board says it cannot easily adapt the procedure.
This all came about because of a foreign PhD candidate's story, who had complained about her PhD thesis supervisor, but to her astonishment was called to a hearing in Dutch. At the same time, Maastricht University characterises itself as an international university, has a significant number of foreign students and members of staff, and holds all kinds of council and committee meetings in English.
The Complaints Committee for Inappropriate Behaviour is an advisory council that deals with sensitive issues such as discrimination, aggression, intimidation, and violence. Because it works independently, the Maastricht Executive Board cannot interfere just like that, says Cenay Akin, deputy director of Legal Affairs. She adds that all formal procedures “are carried out in Dutch from the beginning”.
What makes it difficult, is the fact that this concerns an arrangement between the UM, the Open Universiteit and Zuyd Hogeschool. Adaptations would have to be put before the representative advisory bodies of all three institutes. But Akin says: “In the meantime, the Executive Board is considering the need and the possibility to provide tailor-made solutions in individual cases.” Exactly what such tailor-made solutions would be, remains unclear in Akin's written reaction. Obviously, no change to the language used in this particular case.
Upon her lawyer’s advice, the PhD candidate did not attend the hearing. The reason was the committee's “prejudice”, partly because of the language used and partly because she would have been heard separately from the accused, while the point of departure in cases such as this, is that both parties are questioned in each other’s presence.