NWO chief Levy crossed the dust after mocking ‘Social Safety’

NWO chief Levy crossed the dust after mocking ‘Social Safety’

NWO President Marcel Levy in his office.Sculpture by Carlotta Cardana

“Anyone who doesn’t find their way even for a moment will soon start screaming that they ‘don’t feel safe,'” says Levy. column in Parole. “In an appraisal interview in which you receive calm, measured criticism of your performance, you can nonetheless inform a confidential advisor right away that your manager is making you feel insecure and may even complain of infringing behavior.”

After the column, in which Levy explicitly mentions only the complaints about former chamber president Khadija Orib, “disbelief and defeat” prevailed in the reactions at the universities. This is now written by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO), the research funder on its web site Under the title “Social Security: Of paramount importance in academia”.

There, Levy says, he wrote his column for “the general public” and did not adequately take into account the sensitivity of social security in universities. I was shocked by the strong response. It was never my intention to hurt people. But what happened: I hereby apologize for that.


The National Network of Professors, the Doctoral Network of the Netherlands and many individual scientists have already spoken out on Twitter They extended their refusal From. Within the academic world, certainly since the sacking of powerful astronomy professor Tim de Zeeuw, after decades of undesirable and intimidating behavior at Leiden University, there has been more enthusiasm than there really was to make short work of infringing behavior. De Zeeuw himself was on the NWO’s advisory board, but has since left without much publicity.

“A number of elements play a role everywhere in science,” said university professor Naomi Ellmers. Saturday regarding Social Security in De Volkskrant. I have led a committee that has spoken to more than a hundred victims and perpetrators at Dutch universities. According to Ellmers, the problem is so structural that every university department must discuss trespassing behavior at regular intervals.

A major and ongoing problem

In his column, Levy wrote: “Security has become (…) a modern, meaningless buzzword for all situations where you don’t get what you want.” “Unwanted behavior is also a major and ongoing problem in science,” Levy now says in his statement. “I realize that this column and the examples in it can be seen as a statement of support for directors and managers who dismiss undesirable behavior as annoying and a lack of flexibility, when in fact it is an important factor maintaining an unhealthy research culture.”

To prevent any subsequent misunderstandings, the NWO’s executive board also states that it considers “social safety in science to be an important topic and topic”, which is being “actively worked on”.

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