More academics are being threatened, universities take action

A fake key for the function of swearing.

Academics are facing an increasing number of threats and messages of hate, prompting Dutch universities to take action, university association VSNU said on Monday.

In particular, universities are introducing a ‘zero tolerance policy’ which means threats, physical and sexual abuse and stalking will be reported to the police, the VSNU said.

Universities are also developing training course and offering psychological support to the victims of threats and have set up a website WetenschapVeilig to exchange information with police and the justice ministry.

In particular, academics who take part in television talk shows are being targeted, the VNSU said, citing the threats made against scientists advising the government on managing the coronavirus pandemic.

‘We welcome the way our scientists are using their knowledge and insights to serve society,’ said chairman Pieter Duisenberg. ‘But when that leads to intimidation and threats, we consider this to be a direct attack on academic freedom and freedom of expression.’

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