Call to UU board: ‘Distance yourselves from Black Lives Matter’

Demonstration against racism, earlier this year at the Jaarbeurs square. Photo: DUB

After the death of George Floyd and the eruption of world-wide protests against racism, several departments of Utrecht University also voiced their support for the Black Lives Matter movement. Statements came from (among others) the Utrecht Graduate Programme Gender Studies, the Utrecht Young Academy, and University College Utrecht (UCU).

In a letter (pdf, Dutch), student council member Job van den Broek asks the university board to distance itself from Black Lives Matter. He says one of the leaders has declared that the movement uses Marxist points of view. In Van den Broek’s words, this is about “a totalitarian ideology that has caused an immeasurable amount of misery (…) Something the UU should definitely not want to identify with.”

Moreover, Van den Broek adds, Black Lives Matter is so aggressive that peaceful civilian activists are turning their backs to the movement. He refers to tearing down statues and calling out for ‘decolonising’ universities.

Previously, members of parliament Wilders and Beertema had voiced their objections to the minister of Education about a pro-Black Lives Matter statement from UCU dean James Kennedy. Institutions in higher education should, the PVV members say, “instantly cease voicing their support and solidarity for this subversive organisation.”

In a response (Dutch) to parliamentary questions of the duo, minister Van Engelshoven rejected that idea. She says racism and discrimination are persistent problems in Dutch society. To make students more aware of this, it should be possible to have discussions and exchange stories and experiences within study programmes. The minister said that’s the thought behind James Kennedy’s message of support for the Black Lives Matter movement as “an anti-racist civilian initiative.”