University Council on smoking policy, crisis countries and cooperation with Zwolle

| Stan Waning

On Wednesday morning, the University Council addressed issues including the smoking policy, help for UT people from crisis countries and the Scientific Integrity Committee (CWI). An upcoming covenant with Windesheim was also reviewed. An overview.

‘Shocked by potential fine for non-compliance with smoking ban’

As attendees were about to leave the last meeting of 2022, Pieter Boerman (Campus Coalition) expressed his concerns about the warning UT received from the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA). It regarded the non-compliance with the smoking ban on campus. 'I found the message about the possible fine quite shocking. How I see it, smoking on campus has become more normalized over the past year. My suggestion is to be clearer towards smokers. Speak out that one can be fined if they smoke on campus.'

The Council requested that it will also be made clear to external visitors that the campus is smoke-free, for example at the indoor pool and childcare facilities. Roberto Cruz Martinez (Campus Coalition): ‘In many places there seems to be a lack of clarity - even among UT staff and students, or the lines are blurred. I see many people smoking on the bridge next to the Cubicus, as if they think they are above international waters.’

Machteld Roos indicated on behalf of the Executive Board that the warning has made the UT aware. ‘We have emailed managers and executives to remind everyone of the smoking ban. All other input is welcome. Let us try to keep each other aware and bring it to people’s attention when it does happen.’

Website for UT students & staff from crisis countries

The University Council asked the Executive Board to realize a website to help students and staff from crisis countries. According to Fridtjof Otto (UReka), this should be a hub for all the information that tells them what help can be found at the UT, where to go for it, who they can contact and any other essential info that can offer them support.

This request had been expressed by the University Council before, but rector Tom Veldkamp acknowledged that the request has not been taken up yet. 'But I think a framework on how we as UT can offer support to students and staff from crisis countries is a solid advice. We will work on it.'

‘Appoint a second chair for the integrity commission’

The University Council also encouraged the Executive Board to be more open about how the Scientific Integrity Committee (CWI) operates. Hanneke Becht (Campus Coalition): ‘I get that the commission discusses sensitive cases, but give openness to create a safe environment. Don’t put it away as is on some website. As a community, we need to learn from the discussions. Make matters visible anonymously, so that we are aware of what can and cannot be done.’ She cited the case of a professor from September 2021 as an example.

The Council also suggested the appointment of a second chairperson to increase security and independence. This is because the current and only chair, Michiel Heldeweg, is affiliated to the BMS faculty. 'Put a second chairman from another faculty, or even better: an independent person, next to that.'

Rector Tom Veldkamp acknowledged the sensitivity of procedures at CWI and promised improvement in making the content more visible. 'But appointing a second chairman is difficult. It is quite a challenge to find people for that role. The current chairman will retire in the foreseeable future, but has indicated that he will continue as CWI chairman, which already allows him to proceed more neutrally.'

Covenant with Windesheim

Before the start of the meeting, Vinod Subramaniam announced that UT and Windesheim University of Applied Sciences will sign a cooperation covenant. Earlier, it was announced that the Zwolle Region and the UT are seeking closer cooperation. Exactly how this covenant will take shape is currently unknown. The topic has already appeared on the first University Council agenda of 2023.

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