This is the statement from the Amsterdam University College lecturers in solidarity with the student sit-ins for Palestine:
Since Monday 20 November, Amsterdam University College students have been participating in daily sit-ins calling for Palestinian liberation. As AUC lecturers and members of the academic community, we feel obliged to mingle our voices with those of our students.
The right to protest is a basic tenet of academic freedom. Universities are spaces where political perspectives are developed. A liberal arts education, in particular, prepares students to be free and critical thinkers, open communicators, and global citizens. Yet, AUC (which is part of the University of Amsterdam) has opted to position itself as neutral, while shrinking the space for dialogue on campus and suppressing student solidarity with Palestinians.
Last week, a campus dialogue organized in collaboration with the UvA Central Diversity Office was abruptly cancelled. This week, a sign was placed on the first floor gathering space that effectively bans freedom of expression. As staff, we are deeply concerned by these actions at AUC, by the lack of transparency in decision-making processes, and by how decisions appear to come from the top-down.
We maintain that the demands of students must be heard without threat of sanctions. This must be extended to pro-Palestinian speech, including the daily sit-ins. Furthermore, these sit-ins must be recognized as an example of our students linking theory to practice, demonstrating how the Palestinian cause inspires political, specifically decolonial and intersectional, approaches to student mobilization.
We recognize that the daily sit-ins are disruptive. However, the inconvenience of disruption also invites critical inquiry and pedagogy. Recognizing these sit-ins as a form of civil disobedience, we want to extend space for such expression, while also being flexible. As lecturers, we commit to collaborating with students to offer academic accomodations as needed. As educators, we commit to cultivating a learning environment at AUC where our students feel supported, respected, and mutually empowered.
We thus call upon members of staff and students to join the daily sit-ins, in solidarity with the students protesting.
We call for complete transparency around AUC’s decision-making. We request clear communication regarding the rationale behind sanctions for protesting and the cancellation of specific events.
We urge AUC to support student-led initiatives, such as teach-ins and dialogues.
Silence and neutrality are political stances, as is the suppression of peaceful protest. We stand in solidarity with our students. We thank them for opening this space for dialogue. As lecturers, we accept this invitation and look forward to engaging all students and staff in this discussion.
Please sign the statement here: