Corstens Commission concludes in report: no expressions of antisemitism
The Corstens Commission that investigated whether there are any grounds for the rumours of antisemitism at the Faculty of Law has found no indication whatsoever for such expressions. This also applies to the professor in question. This is evident from the report that the commission chaired by Professor G.J.M. Corstens, former President of the Supreme Court, presented to the Executive Board of Leiden University on 28 January 2021.
The external enquiry commission that was instated by the Executive Board on 2 December 2020 to investigate possible expressions of antisemitism at the University comprised, alongside Chair Professor Corstens, A.M.C. Eijsink, M.A., former member of the House of Representatives, and M.C. Aarts, LL.M., a former notary. In its enquiry, the Commission spoke to 27 current and former PhD candidates and current and former members of the University staff.
At the end of November 2020, the Executive Board became aware of signs and rumours of expressions of antisemitism and how these had been handled at the University. These related in particular to a professor at the Faculty of Law. These signs and rumours caused considerable agitation, also for the professor in question, and elicited strong responses from the students and staff of the department concerned as well as at the Faculty and University itself. The Board therefore decided to investigate whether there was any truth to these far-reaching and damaging signs and rumours, by instigating an objective fact-finding enquiry conducted by an external commission.
The Corstens Commission has reached the ‘clear and unambiguous conclusion’ that there is no indication whatsoever of such expressions of antisemitism at the University. And that as a result ‘the reputation of the Department, and consequently also that of the Faculty of Law and Leiden University, has been tainted unjustly.’ The Commission therefore advises the Executive Board and Faculty Board: ‘Ensure that this report, and in particular the conclusion formulated in the report, is given broad circulation, without delay.’ The Commission also advises entering into urgent discussion with the staff of the Faculty and in particular the staff of the Department in an effort to end the agitation to which the situation has given rise.
Furthermore, the Commission states, it is important to pay more attention to encouraging discussion and an exchange of ideas between the department concerned and the other departments of the Faculty.
Rector of the University and President of the Executive Board Carel Stolker is pleased with the thorough fact-finding enquiry into alleged expressions of antisemitism that has been conducted by the Corstens Commission: ‘No organisation whatsoever, so this means universities too, can allow its staff to be viewed in this manner. This causes irreparable damage if it is not investigated and discussed.’
Stolker continues: ‘The report has allayed concerns about these rumours of antisemitism. That is very important: first for the professor concerned and the departmental staff, but of course also for the students and staff at the Faculty and the University. Together with the Faculty Board, we will now enter into immediate discussions with the students and staff from the department and from the other departments at the Faculty to restore peace and our trust in one another.’
For media questions about this report, please contact the spokesperson for Leiden University, Caroline van Overbeeke.