Saturday 16 November 2019

Amsterdam university chief quits over student protests

gunning-schepers-louise-college-van-bestuurhans-vandenbogaard-85873The student protests at the University of Amsterdam have led to the resignation of management board chairwoman Louise Gunning.

Gunning, who was appointed in 2012, has been under fire for her handling of the dispute, particularly her decision to end the occupation of the university administration centre by sending in riot police.

The student unrest began mid-February when a group of students occupied part of the humanities faculty in the city centre in protest at the lack of democracy at the university and spending cuts.

That building was cleared by riot police 11 days later. The following day, a group of students moved into the Maagdenhuis administration centre and called for the board’s resignation.

Gunning eventually agreed that one student could have a place on the management board but that did not go far enough for the protestors, who remained in the building until that too was cleared by riot police on April 11.

The decision to send in the police was widely criticised by university staff, with several hundred signing an open letter calling for the board’s resignation. On Friday, the student council and the university works council also called for change at the top.

In a short statement, Gunning said she hoped her departure would allow the supervisory board to put together a new management team. This should be a ‘management board which is able to bring calm back to the University of Amsterdam and lead its modernisation,’ Gunning said.

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