‘UU should take a stance on Israel's violence’

Students start petition to ask for support to Palestine

palestinademo in utrecht foto X - Utrechtse socialisten
Photo: X, Utrechtse socialisten

The students behind the initiative don't understand UU's decision to refrain from taking a stance. In their view, the university is committing "institutional hypocrisy" by not mentioning the Palestinians' situation in Gaza.

In the petition published last Sunday, six Master's students from the Faculty of Humanities and one graduate from University College Utrecht argue that UU's silence contradicts the university policy of political neutrality. It would also not be coherent with what students learn in class about colonialism and human rights.

In addition, the university should acknowledge its own role in maintaining Israeli policy. The students call on the university to sever its ties with universities in Israel. By Tuesday morning, the petition had already been signed by 712 people.

On Monday, UU published a statement on its website in which it expresses its "concern" about the situation in the Middle-East. According to a spokesperson for the university, UU was already planning on publishing such a message, so the statement shouldn't be seen as a response to the petition.

The university says that requests to speak up in a more assertive way were coming from many sides. "We understand the call to take a stand," the Executive Board writes in the statement. "However, that is not our role as UU. We are a university, not a political institute."

At the same time, the university says it wants to create a space for students and employees to share their views on the subject. However, the university "urgently appeals" to its community to "maintain peace and unity, with attention and respect for each other."

Students and employees from the University of Amsterdam have also called on the Executive Board of their university to take a stance regarding Israel's violence in Gaza. In the United States, there has been a big fuss surrounding a letter in which students manifest their support to the Palestinians, which embarassed the university administration. Many of the students who had signed the letter withdrew their support after their names had been published by far-right websites.

Tags: israel | Palestina | oorlog