Debate role of universities – Monday April 23rd at deBuren, Brussels

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Dear all,

On Monday April 23rd , deBuren in collaboration with KU Leuven, UA, UGent and VUB are organizing a debate on the democratic legacy of 1968 and the role of universities then and now. The debate is organized as part of the doctoral school course “What does it mean to be a researcher in 21st century academia?”, but it is open to a broader audience. For everyone interested in slow science and/or the societal role of universities, this event is not to be missed!

You can find all relevant information via the website of deBuren: https://www.deburen.eu/programma/4603/de-democratische-erfenis-van-68-waar-staat-de-universiteit-vandaag

 

Practical information:

Monday April 23rd, 19h30-21h
deBuren
Leopoldstraat 6, Brussels

Tickets (5€/3€) are available through the website. The event is free for those who follow the workshop.

 

We hope to meet you there!

 

——–

Beste allen,

Aanstaande maandag organiseert deBuren in samenwerking met KU Leuven, UA, Ugent en VUB een debat over de democratische erfenis van 1968 en de rol van de universiteit, zowel toen als nu.

Het debat kadert in de doctoral school workshop “What does it mean to be a researcher in 21st century academia?” maar is open voor publiek. Voor iedereen die geïnteresseerd is in slow science en/of de maatschappelijke rol van universiteiten is dit een niet te missen evenement!

Meer informatie is te vinden op de website van deBuren: https://www.deburen.eu/programma/4603/de-democratische-erfenis-van-68-waar-staat-de-universiteit-vandaag

 

Praktische informatie:

Maandag 23 april, 19u30-21u
deBuren
Leopoldstraat 6, Brussel

Tickets (5€/3€) zijn te verkrijgen via de website. Het debat is gratis voor wie de workshop volgt.

 

We hopen jullie daar te mogen verwelkomen!

UCU strike in the UK and how to help

At the moment, the University and College Union (UCU) organizes a strike to fight against the new pension plans. A majority of UK academic institutions are taking part in this strike. For more information and latest updates about the strike:

https://www.ucu.org.uk/strikeforuss

This issue is also relevant for the broader slow science movement, as it is part of the marketization of universities. To give only one but very pertinent example: final pensions would depend on how the stock market performs, not on contributions.

As one of the strikers puts it:

“The real problem behind pensions is this: Universities have borrowed billions in bonds to spend on fancy new buildings – they are becoming property developers. These bonds are then traded on the financial markets so that the more they are ‘de-risked’ the more they are worth. De-Risking the pension to the extent that its modelled on all universities going bust simultaneously isn’t a realistic expectation, but it is a theoretical risk that when transferred to individual academics increases the bond’s value. We are losing our pension security to make more money for bankers in other words.”

 

HOW CAN YOU HELP?

  • You can tweet your messages of support to @UCU (union nationally) or to the local initiatives of different universities.

 

  • Donate to the fighting fund of UCU: there are lots of precarious, early career academics, and single parents on strike who will need financial support for the wages they are losing. https://www.ucu.org.uk/fightingfund

 

  • The Southampton University, in the midst of the strike, has received an email to make sure to ‘prioritize the partner organisations of Southampton University as part of the Internationalisation Strategy’, of which KU Leuven is apparently the number 2 partner. Therefore we want to use this internationalization strategy to show our solidarity with our colleagues. We would like to collect pictures of you showing a card/paper with (something like) “I support my colleagues in the UCU-strike @ Southampton University [name, university]”. This will only take 5 minutes of your time, but it would be really great if we can collect a big number of pictures. They will be shown on the website of those who strike in Southampton. Of course, scholars from KU Leuven are especially encouraged, but a broad support from all colleagues is highly appreciated. You can send your picture to Valerie, and they will be sent collectively to the UCU strikers @ Southampton.

 

  • Boycott the institutions from this list, as they engage in punitive behaviour during and between strike days

 

  • All universities could benefit from your support, so please reach out to any of your colleagues on strike at the moment and ask how you can help them. We can post the actions on our website or help circulate through other means.

 

 

Universiteit Gent Women’s Strike 2018

WOMEN’S STRIKE Ghent University 2018
#WOMENSTRIKEUGent2018

The official website of the event is now available:
https://womenstrikeugent.wixsite.com/2018

Please read the demands and sign the petition:
https://womenstrikeugent.wixsite.com/2018/blog

We willen onze eisen kracht bijzetten door een feministische actie te organiseren op 8 maart 2018: Overeenkomstig de loonkloof, zullen we een “walk-out” organiseren om 15u27. Studenten en docenten worden gevraagd om de lessen te staken en samen met andere personeelsleden en sympathisanten te verzamelen voor het rectoraat, alwaar we graag een open “mic” willen houden, met koffie en een vieruurtje.
Wij hopen dat de Women’s Strike massaal op uw steun kan rekenen!

We want to assert our demands with a feminist action on March 8 2018: a walk-out at 15h27, symbolising the general gender pay gap (on average a woman is paid from 8h00 until 15h27 compared to a fully paid full work day of a man). Students and lecturers will be asked to leave their classes and join other staff and sympathizers at the rectorate, where we will hold an open “mic”, with coffee and a 4 o’clock snack.
Let’s stand together and strike for another university and a more equal and diverse community!

Our demands:

TO THE RECTOR AND VICE-RECTOR OF UGENT:

We strongly support your commitment to a more participatory and inclusive university, as expressed in your election campaign. We want to join you in working actively towards a more diverse and stress free workplace, with equal opportunities for all. We would like to remind you of our demands and propose the following actions:

1. DEDICATION TO EQUALITY

All deans and 75% of professors are men, and a majority of cleaning staff are women and people of colour. Let’s end sexual and racial segregation in all jobs and eradicate bias and privilege in recruitment:
elevate the minimum wages at our university!
stop the outsourcing of service jobs to put an end to precarious working conditions
install quota to increase the number of female professors to at 50%
develop programs to eradicate the barriers for underprivileged and minority groups in entering and continuing in the university

2. NO MORE SILENCE ABOUT VIOLENCE

Racist, sexist, ableist, trans- and homophobic discrimination have no place at the university. Let’s not be part of the silent majority that enables this kind of violence and speak up for one another! An open debate and transparent policy that takes unequal power relations at the university into account is the urgent and necessary thing to do.
set up an anonymous contact point and consultation centre to report not only sexual harassment but all discrimination and/or violence in the workplace!
mandatory gender and diversity training for all tenured staff!
unfund any organisation that promotes any form of discrimination or violence!

3. SAY YES TO LESS STRESS

Good-quality work requires healthy workers with a good work-life balance. We want “slow science” instead of “publish or perish.” Let’s reduce burnouts by reducing working hours, (administrative) demands, unpaid tasks and pointless competition for scarce funds.
promote a culture of collaboration and care instead of competition and control!
reform the current career model and system of personal goals!
Work towards reform the financial allocation model for higher education

4. LET’S PRACTICE WHAT WE PREACH

Ghent University proclaims to be a socially committed, pluralistic university, with critical thinking as its baseline. Let’s practice what we preach and actively work towards a more caring and diverse university:

we want more effective support for maternity, parent, caring and sickness leave, for all levels, all contracts!
reinstate the recently abolished coverage of anti-conception and abortion by the UGent health insurance plan!
decolonize the university by funding relevant programs and courses and promote feminist and postcolonial mentality that embraces differences!

universiteit gent women's strike

“Walloons go home!” A little appetiser for our April debate

 

ced683fa-e71f-11e7-b21c-c6da46635f7d.jpg
These precognizant protesters knew how this language thing was gonna play out in the end

The expanding use of English, both in scientific communication and in the classroom,  has gone by almost unnoticed and seems to only be contested in the margins. However, this is not without consequences, both for the kind of research that is performed, as for the ease with which scientific knowledge flows back to the rest of society. Moreover, the use of English may disadvantage those students that for whatever reason are not as fluent.

Placed in a historical perspective, this is somewhat peculiar. The linguistic emancipatory goes back a hundred years, and it is not until the thirties that students were able to follow courses in the Dutch language at Belgian universities (bar a somewhat embarrassing period under German occupation during the World War I) . But even so, this was not the case at all universities, nor for all disciplines. Still, an important demand had been fulfilled.

However, up until the sixties there remained a bilingual university in Leuven, two different structures under the same heading, enforced by the Belgian bishops who governed the universities. This proved to be a thorn in the eye for Flemish nationalists, and when their demands were rejected by the clerical authorities, they found themselves supported by others who wished to do away with the old bourgeouis establishment. This culminated in massive street protests, riding on the general wave of student protests in the wake of May ’68. Science and education in the language of the people, would also bring it closer to the people, as it was assumed.

Though the University of Leuven was stricly speaking a private university, and not under governmental control, the contestation led to the fall of a government, and was eventually resolved by the expulsion of the Francophone part of the university. The cows and sheep of Ottignies lost their grazing fields as a new city and university was erected on rural Walloon soil; Louvain-la-Neuve, literally ‘New Leuven’.

For some, this had the air of ethnic cleansing. Others were put at ease by the thought that the Francophone wing of the Catholic University of Leuven would no longer serve as a beachhead for French incursions into Flemish territory, which had been officially and legally defined by the drawing of the linguistic border in 1962.

So now, almost fifty years later, Dutch is again losing footing to another language. Are the issues that lay at the base of this struggle still relevant in our globalized world today, or is this no more than a rearguard fight of some disgruntled banner waving nationalists? We can’t pretend to answer this question for you, but we can find an outlet for you to debate these and other issues; at deBuren in Brussels, on the 23rd of April.

Be there, or remain forever ignorant!

 

KU Leuvense rector Luc Sels belooft ontwikkeling academisch mensenrechtencharter

dscf4664.jpgNaar aanleiding van de ethische bezwaren van een academische actiegroep tegen Law-Train, een internationaal onderzoeksproject over het verbeteren van ondervragingstechnieken, waarbij de KU Leuven maar ook de Israëlische politie betrokken zijn, heeft rector van de KU Leuven, Luc Sels, een blogpost geschreven.

Daarin verdedigt hij drie punten, waarvan er twee prima zijn:

  1. de KU Leuven-onderzoeksgroep kan het lopende project, dat eindigt in april 2018, verder afwerken;

  2. de KU Leuven zal, in voorkomend geval, niet participeren in een vervolgproject met het huidige consortium;

  3. de KU Leuven engageert zich om een mensenrechtencharter te ontwikkelen dat in de toekomst een betere houvast kan bieden bij de deelname aan onderzoeksprojecten.

De volledige tekst kan je hier lezen.