TU Delft puts its energy into the improvement of social safety

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On 1 March this year, TU Delft made public the Education Inspectorate’s report on social safety. The fact that there are employees at TU Delft who have experienced socially unsafe behaviour was the reason for the Inspectorate’s investigation and report. The Executive Board and the Supervisory Board wished to inform employees in person about the findings and answer any questions. In the days and weeks following 1 March, meetings were held centrally on campus and in faculties and directorates.

Staff and managers discussed social safety, the inspection report and the Executive Board’s response to the report.

Work to be done

As expected, the report has caused quite a stir within the TU Delft community and beyond. This is an understandable reaction. After all, socially unsafe behaviour is unacceptable and should not be ignored, trivialised or condoned. So there is work to be done. We want everyone who works or studies at TU Delft to have a safe working environment where people treat each other with respect.

Reaching out to make things better

The Executive Board recognises the signs of socially unsafe behaviour within TU Delft and acknowledges the distress of TU Delft staff who have experienced socially unsafe behaviour in the past, whether recently or not. After all, every incident is one too many.

The Executive Board is committed to take the lead and to guide the cultural change that is necessary in order to be a leading university in all’aspects, including social safety. That is why, after consultation with the Works Council and the Students’ Council, the board is developing an improvement plan with (representatives of) the TU Delft community, in which we explicitly hope to receive help from TU Delft staff who have themselves experienced socially unsafe behaviour. The board will involve external experts to guide this process.

Critical responses welcome

It is no secret that the inspection report and the Executive Board’s response to it have been the subject of much discussion in our university community. Colleagues are talking about it. Staff have started a petition that has been signed by about a thousand people. Unions and participation bodies have spoken out critically. And several critical articles have appeared in the media. The common denominator in these reactions is that the inspection report should be taken seriously and that the method of investigation should not be legally challenged.

Full commitment to improvement plan

The Executive Board welcomes the recommendations contained in the inspection report as they contribute to a more socially safe working environment and the culture change required to achieve this. The board has gratefully listened to the signals from the faculties and directorates and share the view that initiating a court case to review the legality of the investigation methodology used will not help this transition process. Let us put our energy into improving social safety together.

Next steps

Four meetings will be held over the next month, led by external experts, and all staff, students and alumni are welcome to attend. The aim of these meetings is to find out what the University community thinks needs to change and how best to go about it. In addition, smaller meetings with experts will be organised and a random group of colleagues will be invited to join in the process of reflection. The results of all these meetings will be incorporated into the improvement plan that TU Delft will submit to the Education Inspectorate in mid-May. The opinion, the voice of the university community is indispensable in this improvement process. In this way, TU Delft wants to work together towards a safer working environment in which people treat each other with respect.