News of the week 47

What's happened in the past week? University evades labour law, service point at Broerplein, cycle route to Zernike and more.

Universities evading law with ‘contrived contracts’

‘Contrived contracts’ entail permanent contracts for some working hours and temporary contracts for the remaining hours. The construction is a response to laws instated last summer to address the improper use of temporary contracts and allow for earlier entitlement to permanent contracts at universities.

At the RUG, 41 per cent of support staff and 61 percent of academic staff have temporary contracts. Dutch universities agreed to reduce temporary contracts in the collective labor agreement last year, but contrived contracts go against this agreement. Universities also bypass the law by offering 5-year posts and classifying them as permanent.

Service point coming to Broerplein

The RUG will open a service point in the former building of the textbook seller Studystore, located beside the University Library. The building on the corner of Oude Kijk in ‘t Jatstraat and the Broerstraat has long been university property and has been occupied by various bookstores in years past.

Now, the university wants to locate a service point there, according to RUG spokesperson Gernant Deekens. What exactly that will entail is not yet clear, but the RUG currently has one existing service point: career advice centre Next, located in the UB.

Cycle route from Zernike to station

Last week, the new city cycling strategy was presented with investments of 3.1 million euros to stimulate cycling. A cycle tunnel will be built under the Central Station and the Korreweg will become a ‘cycling street’.

There will also be a new bike parking close to the Vismarkt and on busy routes, cars and cyclists will be more separated and heated paths will prevent ice and snow build-up. The municipality wants to make the cycle route to Zernike better and safer, and extend it to the Central Station; however, when and how is not clear in their ten year plan.

Student agent Facebook account stopped

The student police agent’s Facebook account has been taken over by the team Politie Groningen Stad & Haren. The page posts about incidents in the area and more general messages, as opposed to student-specific messages.

From the perspective of the police management, each core team should have a Facebook page. To prevent the mushrooming of Facebook pages, a decision was made with the communication department to merge the core team-center and student pages, since many residents are students. The new Facebook page is being used to search for witnesses and warn people in the area.

Audacious RUG campaign

Groningen is full of advertisement posters from other universities promoting their master’s programmes, so this year, the RUG used this trick in other cities in the battle for new master’s students. Peter Koop, an Algemeen Dagblad (AD) reporter, found it audacious that the RUG had hung up a poster at Delft station by the bus stop to the Technical University.

The posters are part of the ‘Think Bold’ campaign which the RUG started last month to bring more students to Groningen, since many bachelor students head west after graduation. In spring 2016, a new campaign launches.

UvA not tolerating occupation

Since 11 November, members of The New University (TNU) have been squatting in a building by the Oude Turfmarkt in Amsterdam. The youths, who previously occupied het Maagdenhuis, want to turn the building into a base in their fight ‘for decolonialization and free and emancipatory education’.

Exits have been barricaded, and UvA closed the building and filed a police report, citing its hazardous nature. The university feels it has improved matters since the occupation of het Maagdenhuis, but the occupiers disagree. The group protested the ‘market and power-dictated destruction of qualitative education and research’ in Utrecht last week.

Jonge Harten goes to Rotterdam

The theatre festival will celebrate its eighteenth birthday in November, and Jonge Harten Rotterdam is being organized in partnership with the Rotterdamse Schouwburg and the Maaspodium. The theatre festival hopes to exchange talent with its new branch and reach a younger audience.

Performances such as De Therapie by playwright Julie Cafmeyer and the Flemish dance duo Chane Selleslach and Gudrun Ghesquire’s piece Copycat will be going to Rotterdam. Workshops will also be given there. The festival will take place in Groningen from 20 to 28 November, and 27 and 28 November in Rotterdam.

Interdisciplinary research stunted

De Jonge Akademie, part of the Dutch research institute KNAW, has concluded that subsidy providers and universities make it difficult for scholars from different fields to work together. They focus on one field at a time, making interdisciplinary research difficult to finance.

Not only the stance of universities and subsidy providers makes the collaboration difficult: cultural differences mean that it takes some time before researchers understand each other scientifically, i.e. their work method and disciplinary concepts. According to De Jonge Akademie, cross-border research contributes to scientific innovation, and university officials should further facilitate it.

Cutbacks may increase suicides

The number of suicide attempts has increased since the economic crisis began in 2008, with mostly men aged 40-60 taking their lives. But suicide attempts are most common in young men and women. Close ties with a practitioner and continuity in care are essential, but these are being threatened by cuts and the relocation of youth care to municipalities.

On 23 November, Studium Generale will host a free screening of the documentary ‘De Familie’ about the help service 113online, where volunteers talk to people with suicidal thoughts followed by a lecture by RUG clinical psychology professor Jos de Keyser.