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Lecturer and whistleblower Laurens Buijs takes UvA to court

Dirk Wolthekker,
9 mei 2023 - 11:51
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UvA lecturer and whistleblower Laurens Buijs is taking the UvA to court in preliminary proceedings. Buijs was recently suspended by the UvA, but the preliminary proceedings are not about that. The UvA is being sued for allegedly failing to properly apply the Whistleblower Policy, according to the subpoena.

Employer protection of whistleblowers is the express intent of the Whistleblower Protection Act. Buijs feels that the UvA has denied him that protection in the aftermath of the opinion piece he wrote nearly four months ago for the Folia website, leading to considerable ongoing controversy at the UvA. He is therefore filing preliminary proceedings against his employer. The summons is in the hands of Folia.
Empty hype
Buijs has been on a publicity rollercoaster since the publication of his Folia article on January 18. In it, he vehemently takes issue with what he sees as the “woke” culture at the Faculty of Society and Behavior (FMG) of the UvA, particularly in the social sciences department: sociology, cultural anthropology, political science, and interdisciplinary social science (ISW). Among other things, Buijs believes that the term “non-binary,” now also called “gender critical,” has no scientific basis and stated as much in his opinion piece, in which he wrote “to be critical [of] the phenomenon of 'non-binary' and its obsession with 'pronouns' (personal pronouns).”
“I see this phenomenon as empty hype in a highly modern society with no scientific basis in biology, psychology, or anthropology,” Buijs said. “Emancipating a minority group entirely outside the ‘gender binary’ is in my view a dangerous and pseudoscientific aberration.”

“I see the phenomenon of ‘non-binary’ as empty hype in a highly modern society”

It drew enormous criticism inside and outside the UvA (and much acclaim, incidentally), and an ISW student published a “trigger warning” on Instagram, calling for Buijs to be suspended, the article to be removed from the Folia site, and for support to be shown for non-binary students. From then on, things got completely out of hand, after which an investigative committee was formed which is currently investigating the alleged “woke” culture within the faculty. This committee will also further specify what should be understood by the concept of “academic freedom,” which according to Buijs “is being undermined by wokeism, the prevailing cancel culture as well as the radicalization of the academic world, including the UvA administration.”

Buijs demanded, among other things, that the UvA provide him with legal protection

Meanwhile, the issue - partly through statements made by Buijs on social media and an unsuccessful mediation between the UvA and Buijs - escalated to the point where Buijs was suspended at the end of April. The UvA announced that his public statements about other scientists were “unacceptable” and threatened the safety and safe working environment of scientists. He had labeled several UvA employees in tweets as “life-threatening” and “extremist.”


Whistleblower regulation
At the end of November last year, Buijs - according to the subpoena - reported “serious institutional abuses” to both the Complaints Committee and the UvA Executive Board. He invoked the Whistleblower Protection Act and the UvA's internal whistleblower regulations. The subpoena cited Article 8 of the UvA's whistleblower policy. This states that someone who reports wrongdoing “may not be disadvantaged in any way in his position and enjoys legal protection.” According to Buijs, this is not happening, which is why he is taking the matter to court.

Among other things, Buijs demands that the UvA offer him legal protection and undo all kinds of so-called “acts of prejudice.” According to the subpoena, this means lifting the area ban, the suspension, the media ban, and the contact ban so that he can resume his (doctoral) work. In addition, the UvA must provide “appropriate rehabilitation” because Buijs feels his reputation has been tarnished by the whole affair. If the UvA does not comply, a penalty of €5,000 per day with a maximum of €400,000 will be demanded.
A UvA spokesperson indicated by telephone that they will study the summons.
The hearing of the preliminary proceedings judge will take place on Monday, May 22 at 10:30 a.m. in the courtroom on the Parnassusweg.

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