UM received 392 reports of inappropriate behaviour over the last 4 years

Universiteit Maastricht (UM) received 392 reports of grensoverschrijdend gedrag (inappropriate behaviour) in the past 4 years. Sexually inappropriate behaviour was also reported 54 times.

This is according to a survey by Argos (in Dutch) distributed to universities in the Netherlands.

Sexually inappropriate
As far as is known, the number of reports of sexually inappropriate behaviour increased at all universities in the Netherlands, except Maastricht. In 2019, UM received 17 reports, while last year there were 12. Nationwide, on the contrary, there was a sharp increase. This more than doubled: 141 reports were received in 2019, compared to 300 last year.

Inappropriate behaviour
The number of reports of inappropriate behaviour also increased at universities, from 1,007 to 1,700 reports. At UM, this increase is also visible: 123 incidents were reported in 2019, compared to 166 last year. Rijksuniversiteit Groningen (RUG) received the most complaints, followed by the University of Amsterdam (UvA) and Radboud University in Nijmegen.

Official complaints
However, informal reports rarely led to formal complaints in recent years, Argos observes. Annually, 2 formal complaints were always filed about sexually inappropriate behaviour and on average about 20 a year about undesirable behaviour. "It's clear that it's a big leap for people who have made a report to go on to file a formal complaint," Mariƫtte Hamer, government commissioner for sexually inappropriate behaviour and sexual violence, tells Argos. "A formal complaint leads to a whole procedure with adversarial hearings. You have to make yourself known. And victims are also vulnerable. They often don't know what the consequences are."

Nationwide, 8 official complaints were filed for sexually inappropriate behaviour by university students, 4 of which came from UM. Maastricht also received 14 official complaints about undesirable behaviour. In total, 80 official complaints about undesirable behaviour were filed.

UM pays a lot of attention to the issue of (sexually) inappropriate behaviour. Since this academic year, for instance, information, lessons and training on sexual safety have been provided. Confidential counsellors, study advisers, UM psychologists and student counsellors are also given more tools to support students.

Culture change
Education minister Robbert Dijkgraaf speaks to Argos of a culture change "in which we no longer accept certain kinds of behaviour". According to him, every institution and every school should feel the primary responsibility to provide a safe environment for everyone. "This is especially true for young people, because they are extra vulnerable and are still at the beginning of their life path."

Argos will discuss the results of the survey (in Dutch) on Saturday in NPO Radio 1's investigative programme's weekly broadcast.