Ministers: The government should remain silent about quiet areas in institutions

Ministers: The government should remain silent about quiet areas in institutions

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August 28, 2023 | The Ministry of Education, Culture and Science takes the risk of issuing a statement calling on policy makers to facilitate soft zones in higher education institutions and stimulate discussion on the matter. The government should not get involved in this matter, write to the outgoing Ministers Dijkgraf and Paul in response to parliamentary questions.

Photo: Michael Heuss

The government will not make quiet rooms in higher education institutions compulsory. This was said by the outgoing ministers of education, culture and science, Dijkgraph and Paul, in response to parliamentary questions about the statement.Quiet spaces to promote well-being, diversity and inclusion policies in educational institutions‘. Several student associations, including LSVB and ISO, delivered this letter to the Standing Committee on Education, Culture and Science on July 4.

Quiet rooms do not violate neutrality

The statement calls on policymakers and educational institutions to create quiet spaces accessible to all. Not only should it be possible to be quiet there, but there should also be a laundry facility for religious students or employees, according to the statement’s authors.

“This does not violate the neutrality of the educational institution. On the contrary, neutrality is guaranteed because the use of a quiet room is individual and has no effect on the education provided. “True neutrality, in its universal form, embraces differences, treats them as equals, and does not exclude them.”

Quiet rooms are not mandatory in the establishments

Member of Parliament Stefan van Parle, who also leads the list in the upcoming elections, thought he wanted to know what the ministers thought about this. served before a movement To invite ministers to raise the necessity of quiet rooms in their contacts with umbrella organizations for education.

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The desire of student unions is not new to caretaker ministers. Let them know in their answer. However, they emphasize that whether or not to comply with this is a matter for the institutions, not for the ministers.

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“All schools and educational institutions in the Netherlands currently have the option, for whatever reason, to set up a quiet room within the institution and a number of institutions do so. However, they are not obligated to do so,” the answer can be read. A quiet room or not based on its own denomination, its pedagogical and educational vision and the needs of pupils, students and staff.

The government should exercise restraint

In the debate over the desirability or commitment to quiet zones, government should have little voice, Dijkgraf and Paul believe. “The government must act with restraint in matters of an educational or philosophical nature [sic]. Thus, there are no legal restrictions or obligations in this field.

Therefore, educational institutions may not prevent students or employees from praying on the one hand, but on the other hand, they are not obligated to prepare a physical place for that.

Stimulating discussions on this matter between study or student unions and participation councils is a bridge too far for outgoing ministers. This would make the government take a very prominent position.

Agreements between student unions and university organizations

The authors of the statement clearly point out the relationship between quiet areas and student well-being. The Association of Universities of Applied Sciences and Dutch Universities has already concluded agreements on this matter with LSVb and ISO in National Student Welfare FrameworkType outgoing ministers. Quiet Spaces is mentioned once, but less convincingly:

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“Institutions are encouraged to provide students with appropriate facilities that contribute to an ideal and inclusive study climate. Facilities such as gender-neutral toilets and quiet, inclusive, accessible rooms are important for some groups of students to feel at home in institutions,” according to the National Framework for Student Welfare.

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