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The Executive Board has set up an external social safety committee to investigate (the operation of) the system for reports and complaints relating to social safety at the UvA. The committee will be composed of Marry de Gaay Fortman (chair), Martine Bijkerk and Mary Tupan-Wenno, and will advise on how the current system can be improved. The committee has been asked to deliver the final report with recommendations no later than 15 October 2020.

Marry de Gaay Fortman is a partner at the law firm Houthoff and specialises in corporate governance. She has been involved in various studies in the public and semi-public sectors and was chairperson of until January this year. De Gaay Fortman is also a lecturer at Governance University, a knowledge institute that supports organisations in professionalisation and development. Martine Bijkerk is an independent legal advisor, and previously worked as a notary at Houthoff. She specialises, among other things, in issues related to (corporate) governance, and is a consultant in the field of corporate law. She acts as a researcher appointed in inquiry proceedings for the Enterprise Chamber of the Amsterdam Court of Appeal. Mary Tupan-Wenno is director of the Expertise Centre for Diversity Policy, ECHO, that is connected to a wide network of students, (young) professionals and organisations. She focuses on diversity and inclusion within higher education. She is a co-founder and board member of the European Access Network (EAN) and a co-founder and board member of the GAPS (Global Access to Postsecondary Education) initiative.

The reason for setting up an independent committee is the unrest that has arisen among students and employees after an article in the NRC Handelsblad about undesirable behaviour by a lecturer at the Faculty of Humanities. The Board has asked the committee to include at least the following questions in its investigation:

  • Did the Executive Board and the Dean of the Faculty of Humanities respond with sufficient alertness and care in the case in question?
  • How can the UvA adjust the procedures for notifications and complaints in such a way that the feeling of safety among students and staff is increased and complainants feel sufficiently protected against possible disadvantages of submitting a complaint?
  • Is independence from the Board sufficiently guaranteed in the positioning of the ombudsperson, as that position will eventually be set up at the UvA and for which preparations are now being made by the ombudsperson ad interim?

The Board emphasises that the committee can conduct its investigation in complete freedom and is free to report on whatever it wishes. This is intended to ensure that the research is conducted objectively and independently.