Tuesday 22 June 2021

Fashion students demand director quits for failing to tackle ‘unsafe climate’

Students at the Amfi fashion school in Amsterdam have called for the resignation of the college’s director and senior lecturer for ignoring signals of abuse at the institute.

The union said it has received some 60 accounts to date from both former students and students who are still attending the school about lecturers making comments with sexual and racial overtones, humiliating treatment, and a climate of fear which prevented them from speaking out.

‘Students tell us that they need years of therapy after their time at Amfi,’ Maarten van Dorp, chairman of student organisation ASVA, said in a statement. ‘The culture at the school needs a complete overhaul. That cannot be done by a director and a senior lecturer who have consistently ignored signals of an unsafe environment for students.’

The students and union also want the school to apologise for the ‘toxic culture’ that was allowed to spring up and a proper independent complaints procedure.  ‘Students have to be able to make a complaint in safety without fear of repercussions for their results,’ Van Dorp said.

Many of the reactions came in after former Amfi student and occasional lecturer Martijn N. was outed by the Parool and NRC as a sexual predator although it is not clear whether his actions involved students at the school.

Investigation

The Amfi case is the latest in a series of MeToo related scandals and resignations to hit higher education in the Netherlands.

Complaints by two women about a dean at the Erasmus School of Health Policy and Management recently led to his – not immediate – resignation after an investigation by an independent external bureau.

The University of Amsterdam suspended a French lecturer in December last year who was allowed to continue teaching despite complaints about his sexually transgressive behaviour being recognised as early as 2018.

Another lecturer, at the university’s Paper and Book department, was given an official warning about his tendency to touch students inappropriately and for making comments of a sexual nature in 2019. He is still employed by the university.

Christian Democrat MP René Peters has asked caretaker education minister Ingrid van Engelshoven for a an investigation into the safety of students in further education.

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