Reinstate Susanne Täuber, protect social safety and academic freedom at the RUG

Please join us in signing the following open letter here.
You can read the open letter with linked supporting material below. Use the following links for the letter in Dutch, in German, in Spanish, in Portuguese, and in French.

10 March 2023

To Professor Jouke de Vries, President, and members of the Board of the University of Groningen,

We, the undersigned employees and students of the University of Groningen (UG), joined by concerned observers and colleagues at institutions around the world, are appalled at the firing of Dr. Susanne Täuber. The facts of this case are clear: Dr. Täuber was punished for exerting her academic freedom. The same court that allowed the UG to fire her also made it clear that it was the university’s negative reaction to an essay about her experiences of gender discrimination at the university that “seriously disturbed” their work relationship. Alarming details have also been made public about how the university pressured Dr. Täuber to censor future publications, in order to retain her position.

The protest in front of the Academy Building on 8 March, International Women’s Day, and the continuing press attention and social media outcry, demonstrate that this case has consequences far beyond one university. Firing a scholar who publishes work that is critical of powerful institutions, including the university itself, sets a disturbing precedent for us all. We, the employees and students, ARE the UG, and we refuse to let this act be carried out in our names. We call on the University Board to reinstate Dr. Täuber, without delay, as an associate professor, and to ensure that she is provided with a safe working environment.

The firing of Dr. Täuber has surfaced structural problems that necessitate immediate action by the University Board and all UG faculties. It is unacceptable that when a “disrupted employment relationship” emerges within a department, the more vulnerable person is fired. This points to a broader pattern at Dutch universities, as evidenced by the YAG Report (2021), the LNVH Report (2019), and other recent cases: in cases of transgressive behavior, Full Professors, Principal Investigators (PIs), and managers are protected, while employees of lower rank, or students, bear the consequences. If we are to continue performing our education and research mission, then this practice must be reformed, and the University of Groningen has an opportunity to lead here. We call on the University Board to work with labor unions, the LNVH, the University Council, and Faculty Councils to design and implement a safe, independent procedure for addressing violations of social safety: one that prioritizes the protection and support of vulnerable parties.

Internal reforms will help ensure the safety of students and employees, but they will not repair the damage these events have caused to the reputation of the University of Groningen. The termination of a scholar who publishes field-leading research that is critical of academia has triggered doubts among employees, students, and the public about the UG’s commitment to academic freedom. This action is already raising concerns from talented job candidates, and we fear a chilling effect on critical research at the UG and beyond. We call on the University of Groningen, in partnership with the Universities of the Netherlands (UNL), the Ministry of Education, and the labor unions, to enshrine protections for academic freedom in the Collective Labor Agreement.

Reinstate Dr. Täuber, reform complaint procedures, and establish binding protections for academic freedom. The relationship between the University of Groningen and the people it employs, teaches, and serves has been severely disrupted in the past weeks, but that relationship can be repaired if the Board begins taking these actions today.


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Leidse hoogleraar ging ‘meerdere jaren’ in de fout. (2022, October 25). NRC.

LNVH. (2019). Harassment in Dutch academia. Exploring manifestations, facilitating factors, effects and solutions.

Täuber, S. (2020). Undoing Gender in Academia: Personal Reflections on Equal Opportunity Schemes. Journal of Management Studies, 57(8), 1718–1724.

Upton, B. (2023, March 8). Court rules Groningen is free to fire critical lecturer. Times Higher Education (THE).

Veldhuis, P., & Marée, K. (2023, March 8). Groningse universiteit mag kritische docent ontslaan. NRC.

Young Academy Groningen. (2021). Harassment at the University of Groningen.