Commission begins investigation into allegations of antisemitism
Leiden University has appointed a commission to investigate whether there are any grounds for allegations of antisemitism within the Faculty of Law. The commission, which has already begun its investigation, comprises three members and is chaired by Professor G.J.M. Corstens, former President of the Supreme Court.
In the week of 23 November 2020, the Executive Board of Leiden University received reports of accusations of antisemitism and how these were handled. These reports relate specifically to a professor at the Faculty of Law and have led to considerable agitation, also in the individual against whom the accusations have been made, and have elicited very different reactions within the department in question, the Faculty and the University.
In addition, there is a sense of agitation in society within the context of a broader, polarised debate that is currently taking place in the Netherlands, the focus of which is on academic freedom and the possible limits to this. The question is also being discussed of the conditions under which an academic post can be held concurrently with a political post. The University has received reactions to this as well. These are important questions that need to be answered in a broader – national – debate.
The investigation at Leiden University will focus on the agitation that has arisen within its ranks. The Executive Board recognises the need to investigate whether there is any truth in the reports of antisemitism and how these were handled. It has therefore established an external commission of inquiry, comprising Professor G.J.M. Corstens, former President of the Supreme Court (chair), A.M.C. Eijsink, former member of the House of Representatives, and M. Aarts, former public notary.
The inquiry will take the form of interviews with current and former PhD candidates, current and former members of staff, and any other persons with whom the commission wishes to speak. All information relevant to this issue that has been received by the University has been passed on to the commission.
The Executive Board’s mandate to the commission is to investigate:
- Whether, within the department at which the professor works, there have been any expressions of antisemitism by this professor or any other member or former member of staff of the University, including current and former PhD candidates, and if so, how this behaviour has manifested itself. The commission has the freedom to report signs of any other form of discrimination that it may encounter.
- Whether, if there have been indications of antisemitism, managers, including supervisors and co-supervisors, were aware of these, and if so, how they responded to them.
The commission hopes to have completed its investigation in January. No further communication will be issued on this subject while the inquiry is in progress. Once this has been completed, Leiden University will once again participate fully in the national and international debate on academic freedom.
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