UT professor refuses unvaccinated people in his office

| Rense Kuipers

‘In my office NOT vaccinated people NOT welcome’. It is written in big, bold letters on a note at the door of the office of UT professor Stefano Stramigioli. He calls it a ‘statement against anti-scientific sentiments in society’.


The professor of Advanced Robotics has had enough. And the point he wants to make with the note on his door is rather simple, Stramigioli explains. ‘Everyone talks about the freedom of speech because we feel it’s very important. But freedom of speech is very different from freedom of misleading people. I see people – specifically some politicians – who lie, mislead and undermine facts and science, having enormous consequences on human lives. This note is my freedom of speech, actually based on scientifically proven facts.’

His intention is for the letter to spark discussion. ‘I don’t make such a clear statement for the fun of it. I see people stopping in the hallway to take a look, but nobody has talked to me about it yet.’ He hadn’t informed the dean of his faculty of the executive board of his statement, he says. Even though he states, on paper, that he discriminates with this statement. ‘They have more important things to do. Would they see this as undesirable or against certain rules? There is a good chance of that. I do not make this statement out of lack of respect, on the contrary. This is freedom of speech. But I am happy to discuss this with people who are willing to – or want me to remove this note. And no, I absolutely do not intend on doing the latter.’

‘The best of science’

Because, Stramigioli says: vaccines have proven themselves for a long time now. And it is as absurd as it is incomprehensible to him that there are people who question that. ‘These same people would probably not have even been born or be able to grow up, had there not been vaccines for diseases like the smallpox or the measles. We are talking about one of the greatest and most important scientific findings.’

He dedicates an analogy to it. ‘I can imagine that all these sceptics sometimes get on a plane to go on holiday. In that case, they do trust the engineer who designed the plane, they trust the inspector who checks the safety and they blindly trust the pilot who may have slept badly. But they do not trust the best that science has brought to the world?’

Opinions and facts

Stramigioli continues: ‘I fully understand people who cannot or do not want to take the vaccine for medical reasons. But – and I also put that on the note – stupidity is not a medical reason. Fortunately, more than eighty percent of our society take their epistemic, social and moral responsibility as human beings. But that percentage should be much higher.’ For him, the fact that the effectiveness of the corona vaccines diminishes over time is no reason to dismiss the substance as a whole. ‘Because vaccines do help, we can demonstrate and substantiate that with facts and data.’

The crux, according to the robotics professor: ‘There is a difference between an opinion and scientifically proven facts’. He refers to the motto of the Royal Society, one of the first scientific societies: Nullius in verba. ‘It means that you should never take someone’s word for it, but verify statements at all times by relying on evidence and facts. The core of scientific progress and intelligence is therefore not to trust a person just because that person is a scientist, but to rely on peer-reviewed publications in high-quality international journals. Today, the freedom of speech has been lifted to such an extent that it is at the expense of science, common sense and society.’

The note on the door.

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