Column: Dap Hartmann

Stop thief!

During one of the meetings on social safety, columnist Dap Hartmann heard that the Executive Board stood at -20. ‘I agreed that the Executive Board was indeed way behind. But I do not have the impression that it is aware of this.’

(Foto: Sam Rentmeester)

If there have been several burglaries in your neighbourhood, you want the perpetrators to be punished and the stolen items returned. You’d be quite annoyed if instead meetings were held where you were asked to contribute words in answer to the question ‘What does a safe residential area mean to you?’ After all the words have been visualised in a jolly word cloud, you may return home, satisfied and relieved.

During one of the social safety meetings at TU Delft, I was approached by a lady from the Berenschot consultancy agency who asked me why I had not joined one of the monkey tables where the other attendees were busy working on cute fill-in exercises on large sheets of paper. I replied that I felt this was an outrageous disregard for the intelligence of people working at a university. That it is incomprehensible that we don’t talk about the harm that has been caused, but instead ask how things should be improved in the future. With a sad look on her face, the lady from Berenschot proclaimed that the Executive Board was not to be envied: “They are at -20 and people keep pounding on them.”

After the revelation of so much suffering, tears came to my eyes. I had no idea how serious -20 was, because no scale was given. Is it like 0-30 in tennis or rather like 0-20 in a football match? Her face indicated that -20 was pretty serious and I agreed that the Executive Board was indeed way behind. But I do not have the impression that the Executive Board is aware of this. Not least because of all the blunders they have committed in the meantime: the clumsy glossing over of passages to save their own skin, the banning of a publication in Delta, and the expulsion of a Delta journalist from a public meeting. But maybe it was because the word clouds were not ready yet.

Image of a word cloud

In the upcoming Plan for change towards a social [sic] safe TU Delft, Appendix 3 contains the word cloud of the 15 April afternoon meeting. Attendees were asked to respond to the question ‘What does social safety mean to you?’ by entering words in the Dementiameter app. Most prominent were ‘respect for all’, ‘respect’ and ‘cvb resignation’. The caption states that 56 people submitted 433 words, ‘an average of 7.7 words per participant’. Gosh! Now what?

Surprisingly enough, the draft plan also states that ‘Talking about the future makes no sense without talking about the past. […] This conversation about the past has now started and continues’. Then why do we start with talking about the future? And I haven’t heard anything yet regarding a conversation about the past. Or is that only taking place internally, without input from the victims?

Dear Executive Board:

  1. There have been too many burglaries and all the burglars are still at large. Hound down the burglars, punish them mercilessly, and give us back the stolen items.
  2. Request the Supervisory Board to resign, because their supervision has clearly failed.

Only with decisive measures can you rise from -20. After that, there is still a long way to go.

Dap Hartmann is Associate Professor of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the Delft Centre for Entrepreneurship (DCE) at the Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management. In a previous life, he was an astronomer and worked at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. Together with conductor and composer Reinbert de Leeuw, he wrote a book about modern (classical) music.

Columnist Dap Hartmann

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