This autumn, UU president Anton Pijpers visited several locations to elaborate on the housing plans. Photo: DUB

UU board: participation housing plan was done correctly

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The university’s new corporate housing strategy was in fact created in a democratic process, and there was no complete secrecy, according to the Executive Board in response to an angry letter sent jointly by a number of faculty councils. One of the authors of the letter calls the response from the board “disappointing”.

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The University Council was involved in the creation of the new plans for the university housing from early on in the process. Therefore, the council had been sufficiently informed when it was asked to advise about the plans. With this, the university board has guaranteed a proper participation process.

This is the message the executive board writes in a letter to the chairpersons of the faculty councils of five faculties (Sciences, Geosciences, Veterinary Medicine, Medicine, and Social Sciences) and to the chairperson of the University College Utrecht council. Previously, the chairpersons had informed the executive board that their faculty councils were upset about the way the new housing strategy was created. The new plans, which were presented in September, have far-reaching consequences for almost all departments at the university.

The faculty councils mostly wonder whether large parts of the available information should have been shared at an earlier stage. Now, students and employees at University College were caught by surprise by the news that their campus will be sold. Science employees in the Kruyt building were surprised by the announcement that their building will be renovated while in use.

Secrecy
The faculty council members focus, among other things, on the confidential nature of a committee of University Council members. That committee was unable to consult with other co-determination bodies. The faculty council members feel that it was unnecessary and undesirable to have the entire process be conducted in strict secrecy.

The executive board doesn’t agree. The board says the University Council is its regular, appointed conversation partner. As sensitive corporate information was involved, it had agreed with the council to appoint a confidential committee. This was meant to “offer maximum openness, transparency and involvement”. This way, the council was informed sufficiently, the executive board says.

There was no strict secrecy either, the Executive Board says. All important steps, such as establishing the financial framework, were public, after all. Deans and directors of faculties were also informed. The only things that weren’t shared were things that were market-sensitive, to prevent negative financial consequences.

Now that the University Council has given a positive advice, faculties – led by deans – can work on further formulation of the plans, the executive board writes. This is also the time to involve larger groups of students and employees.

More support
Bas Defize, chairman of the UCU council, says he’s “disappointed” in the board’s response, which he feels is defensive. The executive board letter, he says, also contains a number of issues that are debatable. But according to Defize, the councils have not yet had time to meet about the board’s response, and therefore, it’s as yet unclear how they wish to respond.

During a meeting of the chairpersons of the faculty councils this week, it did already become clear that they want to urge the executive board to follow a different process for participation in future important projects, Defize says, in order to guarantee more

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