Petition writers: ‘Colleagues are angry, unhappy and disappointed’

An anonymous group of people from TU Delft, the Students and Staff for Safety, started a petition against the plan of the Executive Board and the Supervisory Board to bring the Inspectorate of Education to court. Delta interviewed them by email.

(Photo: Christin Hume/Unsplash)

Who are you and how did the idea for a petition come about?

We are employees of TU Delft and hold different positions ranging from PhD to professor. After the meeting on 4 March at our faculties, we had lunch together and our main conclusion was that we wanted a different opinion to be heard.

The TU Delft administrators’ response to the Inspectorate’s report was the opposite of what we wanted to hear. The administrators rail against the body that signals the problem, the Inspectorate of Education, instead of dealing with the problem. ‘Don’t shoot the messenger, fix the problem’, was a fitting reaction to our petition.

‘People are afraid of possible consequences if their names are made known. We are too’

‘We were also upset by the fact that the management kept speaking on behalf of TU Delft as a whole, while a lot of employees do not agree with their statements. We discussed different ways to make this clear, and a petition seemed to be the best option. You can share your thoughts, but still remain anonymous.’

Why is anonymity so important?

‘People are afraid of the consequences if their names are known. We are too. We have discussed this subject often enough, but nothing has changed. The Executive Board says that social safety is an important issue, but it has not been able to clearly demonstrate inclusive leadership. The Supervisory Board, which has long known about the number of reports, has also not managed to give the issue the priority it deserves and to push the Executive Board to change things visibly and tangibly for the better.

On top of that, we don’t want this to consume all our time, as we also have to do our regular work.’

What kind of reactions are you getting?

‘Everyone that we talk to at TU Delft and outside is very surprised that the Executive Board is intending to go to court, and asks if all the managers and administrators at TU Delft agree with this. Many people think that this would actually hurt TU Delft’s reputation. Colleagues are angry, unhappy and disappointed.’

How many signatures are you hoping to get?

‘Given the unsafe atmosphere, this seems like one of the few options for staff to have their voices heard. We see that many colleagues are happy about the petition. We now have more than 900 signatures. This is already a lot, but, of course, we hope for even more.

‘It would be a real shame if 900 signatures have no effect on the Executive Board and the Supervisory Board’

‘People are sharing the petition on social media, and the media are covering the subject too. But we do see that some people do not dare sign it. But even if they do not sign it, it would be a real shame if the 900 signatures that we do have, have no effect on the Executive Board and the Supervisory Board.

The tone of the Executive Board message (on intranet) on 7 March, which also mentions the petition, was a step in the right direction. But we now have to wait and see if any action will be taken at the scale that is needed.

The Executive Board yet again asks staff members to share their ideas, but we did so a long time ago. The problem is not a lack of ideas, but that nothing is done with them. The administrators often look back at what was done, but this is futile as those steps have clearly not led to enough change. On top of that, it looks like the Executive Board and the Supervisory Board still want to proceed with a court case.’

How do you know that the signatories of the petition really belong to the TU Delft community?

‘We can see the names of all the signatories on the website. Our own checks show that they are almost all current or former TU Delft students and staff members. At 700 signatures, we saw that 75% are current TU Delft staff members, 10% current students, and 5% former staff members or students. They come from all the faculties and from all positions. We want to repeat that we are very careful with all the names. We do not know the email addresses or IP numbers.’

  • The names of the Students and Staff for Safety are known to Delta’s Editorial Office.

The Inspectorate of Education investigated transgressive behaviour at TU Delft from December 2022 to November 2023. In the resulting report, the investigators speak of intimidation, racism, sexism, bullying, exclusion, gossiping, social insecurity due to lack of leadership and a culture of fear, among other things. For instance, employees are said to be afraid to voice their opinions and hold each other accountable for behaviour.

The effects among TU Delft employees who have reported to the inspection are often long-lasting and hampering. The inspectorate speaks of psychological and physical health complaints, absence from work and a general feeling of insecurity. Stress, burnout, depression and PTSD, crying and tense home situations also occur, as do illness, vomiting at work, panic attacks and heart palpitations.

  • Delta is looking for current and former TU Delft employees who are willing to share their experiences. This can be done anonymously if preferred. Email
Editor in chief Saskia Bonger

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