Universiteit Leiden

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Keeping our campus safe

The world is in turmoil. International wars and conflicts have been raging for some time. And political and social developments are causing insecurity, uncertainty and unrest. This has not gone unnoticed within our university community. We have seen protests, demonstrations and other incidents. This article shares how the Executive Board intends to safeguard us all.

The university is working both openly and behind the scenes to create a safe study and working environment for all students and staff. We understand that this is not always visible. This article lists the measures we have taken so far.

Tightened security since 7 October and Wijnhaven closed 13-15 October 2023

Security in our buildings has been tightened since 7 October. The Wijnhaven building was temporarily closed from 13 to 15 October due to an increased safety risk. This concerned an external threat and had nothing to do with our students or staff. We have no indications that this specific threat is still present. The general security measures remain in force in Wijnhaven (LU-Card checks).

Investigation into 9 November

On 9 November, an unannounced protest in Wijnhaven caused much unrest. This was followed by a commotion about the actions of extra security guards who were present. The Executive Board has indicated that this behaviour was unacceptable and offered its apologies. Bureau Berenschot is currently investigating these events on behalf of the Executive Board.

If you have any questions about this matter, please send an email to secretaris@bb.leidenuniv.nl.

LU-Card checks

Students and staff must show their LU-Card at the entrance to some university buildings in Leiden and The Hague. This is subject to change and may differ per location. The reasons for introducing this measure (temporarily or permanently)  can vary. The situation at our buildings is evaluated regularly.

We regularly receive questions about the LU-Card checks at Wijnhaven and Schouwburgstraat. Our Campus The Hague is in the same area as various ministries and security organisations. This currently makes it necessary for students and staff to show their LU-Card and for external visitors to register to enter these buildings. This is how we limit external risks on our campus.

The LU-Card checks are carried out by our receptionists. As this is a sizeable task, they are supported by a flexible pool of temporary workers hired from a specialised company. Their job is to check the LU-Card of anyone who enters, with no exceptions. People who do not have a LU-Card but have been registered may also enter the buildings. Our receptionists have been instructed not to take photos of people or their ID. Nor are they allowed to check people’s bags. Exceptions may be made, however: for example when dignitaries are visiting.

We are aware that some students and staff feel they are being scrutinised. The receptionists and temporary staff checking LU-Cards have clear instructions to check everyone indiscriminately.

Extra security measures

As a university, we have been used to studying and working in an open, accessible environment. This has always been part of our DNA. However, each location has its own dynamics, which is why different security measures apply to different locations.

We sometimes face an ‘increased safety risk’. This can be when, for example, the National Coordinator for Security and Counterterrorism (NCTV) issues a National Threat Assessment indicating a certain threat level at or around one or more of our university buildings, or, in the event of individual incidents, aimed at specific persons.

This, together with the university’s safety officers’ evaluation of the situation, forms the basis of a risk assessment. The Executive Board then decides what measures to take. The university’s safety and security staff work on behalf of the Board.

Organising events and meetings

The policy for organising events was relaxed in November 2023. It is the responsibility of event organisers that their events run smoothly and people treat each other with respect. We hope this combination of flexibility and clarity helps students and staff feel safer about coming together and openly discussing their opinions and feelings.

External visitors must be registered for such events. It may also be necessary to register in advance how many people will attend the event. This is due to room capacity and fire regulations. Personal data is always handled with care.

Rules on protests

The Universities of the Netherlands (UNL) published guidelines for protests at universities and colleges on 14 May. This means we can work with clear and familiar rules in the event of protests or demonstrations on our campus.

Academic freedom is a core value of Leiden University, and we believe that creating space for different perspectives and opinions is a fundamental principle. However, we realise there may be questions about organising protests on our campus. In short, there is a need for clarity.

Our list of rules on protests is in accordance with the UNL guidelines and our own house rules. We hope this will make it clear to our university community what is (and is not) permitted regarding protests on our campus.

Treat each other with respect

We want our university to be a free, open community, where students and staff can study and work in safety and freedom.

The current situation at home and abroad means this is not always possible. We sometimes face threats and unsafe situations. This makes it necessary to take action to protect the safety of us all.

When it comes to creating a safe campus, we can all play our part. We can do so by treating each other with respect and appreciating that others may not have the same opinions and beliefs  as we do. Our diversity is our strength. Let us not forget this.

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