Message reçu via email concernant l’évacuation à Amsterdam, j’anonymise le message :
After the video images and my own experience of Saturday’s protests and comments by Geert ten Dam have sinked in, I would like to give my personal impression of what all of this means.
Unfortunately there is now a pattern indicating that the CvB has a conscious policy of criminalizing any student protest that enters the terrain of civil disobedience and that trespasses any “normal” rule of conduct for the sake of protest.
1) There was Ten Dam’s statement, after De Decentralen and Humanities Rally had ended their commitment to the student councils.
They had written in their letter about their disappointment with the given power structures and indicated their assessment that another occupation could become possible in the future. Ten Dam’s then said in an interview for AT5 that the students had “called for violence” ("oproep tot geweld"). This was an astonishing radicalization of language based on two falsehoods: 1. an occupation in itself cannot be labelled violence, 2. the students did not actually “call for” any occupation in their letter.
2) After a demonstration organized by the students in order to bring to the streets a number of demands backed by the CvB, they intended to playfully extend their protest for a night by installing a small number of little tents on the Roeterseilandcampus. They were asked to leave by the dean of the Social Sciences, but did not want to. Then the riot police came and did what they unfortunately do (remember Bungehuis and especially Maagdenhuis “eviction”), they used physical force to not only evict the students but even people sitting on the terrace of CREA, because they appeared as sympathizing with the protest (according to Folia’s photographer’s Daniël Rommens blog (▻http://www.danielrommens.nl/2018/06/10/studentenprotest-en-hardhandige-ontruiming-op-uva-campus ) This amounts to a tactic of “purging” the campus of anybody who looked critical.
The two reasons why it was so urgent that the students had to leave are both not convincing.
It was said it was too loud while the clients on the terrace café Crea were arguably generating more noise than the student.
It was said that the terrain was needed the next day to install an alumni-day program for kids. The students had already promised to leave 9h the next day. Yet, the next day at 11.30 h the place was still completely empty, at around 12 h a very small part of the place was prepared for a play.
3) On Saturday, two policement were on campus. I am not quite sure what they were supposed to do, but at the very least, they sent one student away at the entrance of the campus. The student then found another way in at the back of CREA (I will not comment further on the fact that this was a Dutch student of colour).
4) Apparently there had been discussions to not let any assumed “protesters” in the “Room of Discussion” venue. During the event, I couldn’t help but think that we were meant to be grateful for this apparent tolerance.
Personally, the two policement who “welcomed” me on the Roeterseiland campus on Saturday were the most shocking experience. Is THIS going to be the new normal? And what happens next? What kind of message is this for critical students? What kind of message for critical academics?
Ten Dam said in the discussion that the University of Amsterdam was “the most democratic university in the Netherlands”.
If this is true, I really fear not only for the future of Dutch universities, but also for the future of democracy in this country.
Errata corrige :
It was not the dean of the Social Sciences who asked the students to leave, but Hans Brug, the dean of the economy faculty. (This information gives a certain neoliberal securatization flavour to the whole situation.)