On International Women’s Day, Tuesday 8 March 2022, many of UGent’s staff walked off the job in solidarity with all employees and students affected by anti-social cutbacks and failed cross-border behavior policy. Staff and students met before the rector’s office to express their discontent and think together how the university of the future can be a university of solidarity. In this way they demonstrate that participation is not just a slogan.
Antisocial saving and transgressive behavior
The University of Ghent has been very present in the media in recent weeks. Not because of innovative research results, social services or education, the so-called central tasks of the University of Ghent. However, because of the cross-border behavior and anti-social saving plans that determine the policy of the University of Ghent.
The collective of the University of Ghent that organizes the women’s strike has stated that it does not approve of this way of doing politics, that it finds it extremely hierarchical and also not very transparent.
“A small, virtually untouchable peak decides the fate of the mass of workers who support the foundations of Ghent University. Those foundations are built on a centuries-old tradition of sexism, racism, and classism. Even now, again now, the most vulnerable are the most affected.”
“It seems highly likely that anything that doesn’t belong in the tasks of this circle of decision makers is suddenly no longer a ‘core task,’” the collective says. “In addition, it is mainly those groups that are mainly made up of women and people with a migration background that are most affected. Why is the university of the future so similar to that of the past?
To a supportive university
The Ghent University Women’s Strike stands in solidarity with all those affected by this policy, thus joining another tradition. One that is formed by militancy and solidarity.
So, on March 8, International Women’s Day, they stopped work en masse, productive and reproductive, in protest against the Ghent University policy that they care about. Instead, they work at a care-driven university.
The activists of the collective formulated the minimum conditions for a supportive university in three specific requirements:
- Stop outsourcing essential professions (cleaning staff, nursery staff, logistics staff,…).
- A more transparent, democratic and social policy.
- Install an independent disciplinary committee and a complaint point for transgressive and discriminatory behavior (sexism, racism, transphobia, validism,…).
At 12 noon the activists met in the rectorate of the University of Ghent in Sint-Pietersnieuwstraat, at 12:30 all those present were welcomed with speeches, from 13:00 to 14:30 an explanation was given about the feminism they defend and a participation was organized by the council. Between 2:30 p.m. and 3:00 p.m., the group -the organizers- formulated conclusions together with all those present for a more supportive university.
This strike was an initiative of the UGent Women’s Strike, and was organized together with the ACOD (Algemene Centrale der Public Services) union. The Ghent University Women’s Strike has been advocating for years to address structural deprivation and discrimination at university, firstly by focusing on and valuing care and care work.