Social safety

AcademieKus award goes to initiative against bullying

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Illustration: Pixabay

Created by the General Union of Education in 2017, the AcademieKus prize is awarded every year on February 14 to an individual or group who made an outstanding contribution to academia. This year, the theme of the award was academic freedom.

The jury praised an article published by the Groningen-based researcher Susanne Täuber and several colleagues in the weekly news magazine De Groene Amsterdammer. In it, they argue that universities' social safety policies have actually backfired, leading to more abuses — to the point where this poses a threat to academic freedom.

Täuber believes doing something about the high proportion of flexible contracts at universities would be a much more effective way to tackle the problem of intimidation. She argues that a side effect of such contracts is that they put people in positions of power, with all the risks that this entails.

Academics under threat
The other AcademieKus nominees were the political scientist Sarah de Lange, from the University of Amsterdam, who was instrumental in launching a national hotline for academics who find themselves under threat. Action group OccupyEUR was also nominated for highlighting cooperation between academic institutions and the fossil fuel industry by staging a sit-in at Erasmus University Rotterdam.