Open letter: Maastricht University shows "lack of commitment" to academic freedom

Open letter: Maastricht University shows "lack of commitment" to academic freedom

The letter follows the commotion due to a job vacancy text by FASoS

24-04-2024 · News

MAASTRICHT. A group of more than two hundred scientists feel that Maastricht University’s Executive Board should not get involved in the job vacancy text for a PhD candidate at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. They signed an open letter to the Executive Board on Friday.

The vacancy for a researcher for the “cultural history of Palestinian solidarity and cultural activism in Europe” caused commotion on social media last week: the text does mention Israel’s attack on Gaza, but not the previous attack by Hamas on Israel. According to critics, this shows pro-Palestinian prejudice.

In response, UM’s Executive Board said that they wanted to speak with the researchers involved, to determine whether the job vacancy text was in line with the research assignment “or whether different wording was desired”. Talks were held on Monday, confirms UM spokesperson Koen Augustijn - not by the Executive Board and researchers, but by the Executive Board and the faculty board of FASoS. He did not want to say anything about the content; nor is the college responding to the letter yet.

"Politically motivated stunt"

According to the 215 signatories – eighteen of whom work at UM – the Executive Board thus exceeds its authority and shows “a worrisome lack of commitment to academic freedom”. According to them the job vacancy text reflects “the specific scientific objectives” and is therefore “fully” covered by that freedom.

They claim that there is no real commotion about the text: this was “a carefully staged and politically motivated stunt” to “sow doubt about academic values of free research”. The letter does not state who they think would want to sow such doubt.

"Online intimidation"

The letter follows an article about the subject matter in newspaper De Telegraaf on 16 April. That piece allegedly led to personal “online intimidation and abuse” of one of the project leaders, “a relatively young scientist of colour”. This refers to FASoS researcher and co-supervisor Faisal Hamadah.

Imag: Pixabay

Categories: News, news_top
Tags: fasos,vacancy,israel,palestine,hamas,gaza,letter,researchers

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