The red felt square was featured prominently at the start of the academic year. Photo DUB.

Action week WOinActie: classes at Dom Square

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The Utrecht branch of protest movement WOinActie will hand out red felt squares this week. Students and employees can wear them as a symbol of their unhappiness with the government’s education policies. The group is also organising outdoor classes at the Dom Square.

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The acts are part of a national action week organised by WOinActie, to protest the financial deficits and the workloads in scientific education. Unions FNV and VAWO are supporting the protests.

WOinActie has been resisting the ‘efficiency cutbacks’ at universities that were introduced by minister Van Engelshoven. On Budget Day (Prinsjesdag), it became clear that the government will uphold the so-called ‘doelmatigheidskorting’, supplemented with an additional 19.5 million euros of other cutbacks.

The most noticeable part of the protest in Utrecht will be the public outdoor classes, which will be held at the Dom Square on Thursday between 3 pm and 5 pm. The programme includes appearances by James Kennedy, Dean at University College Utrecht; Belle Derks, chairwoman of The Young Academy; and of course, philosopher Ingrid Robeyns, the frontwoman of WOinActie’s Utrecht branch.

The plan is to have as many employees and students express their discontent in the coming weeks, by wearing a red square on their clothing. The symbol for the academic resistance against underfunding hails from Canada, and had already been featured prominently at the start of the academic year.

The week will start in Utrecht on Monday with a debate, in which UU President of Executive Board Anton Pijpers will also participate. He’ll talk with, among others, representatives of the University Council, of student union Vidius, and of WoinActie. The debate will start at 8 pm in room 0.32 at Drift 21.

There’ll be similar meetings in other cities in the Netherlands. Rens Bod, iniatior of the Amsterdam branch, told the Higher Education Press that the planned actions aren’t disruptive – yet. He predicts harder protest action for the future. “The right moment for those would be around exam weeks in October,” Bod says. He didn’t comment on what those actions would entail.

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