Topic

Education

5,505 petitions

Update posted 4 hours ago

Petition to Dr. Geert ten Dam, Dr. Jet Bussemaker, Mr. Ard van der Steur, Mr. Mark Rutte

Justice for Emily: Help rape survivor fight university’s institutional abuse and cover-ups

Highlights:   A rape survivor encounters abuse and discrimination by a professor at the University of Amsterdam The university dismisses all of her complaints based on untruthful and slanderous testimonies Soon afterward, the same professor impersonates the dean and sends a letter to the student forbidding her from conducting her graduation fieldwork project While she is appealing against the decision, the university invalidates all of her earned academic credits, stating she has made no progress in her graduation project Without her academic credits, she will lose her student visa and has to leave the Netherlands. Therefore, the university can circumvent the accusations altogether. Imagine you send your daughter to study abroad. One year later, she comes back with rape trauma without a Master’s degree. After spending three years overcoming her ordeal, she goes back to school to complete her studies. However, her past is held against her, and she is abused and discriminated against relentlessly by her professor. When she plucks up all her courage to speak up, she is confronted with lies, cover-ups and retaliation by university staff. This is what has been happening to Emily (pseudonym). She is a Master’s student at the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands. Five years ago, Emily had to give up her studies and leave the country due to rape trauma. In September 2014, she went back to Amsterdam to complete her degree. She decided not to let rape define her or dictate her future. She started the semester just like other students and did not ask for any special consideration. She did not share her past with her classmates in order to have a normal student life. Emily was happy to be back and continued working hard to successfully complete her studies. However, in October 2014, the director of her program (the only person who knew her from the previous time and who belittled and tormented her five years ago), approached her in class and made impudent and condescending comments about Emily’s private matters and health in front of her classmates. A few days later, Emily’s thesis supervisor informed her that the director had excluded her from a project because of “a concern for her wellbeing,” and she had to choose another one from other available projects. Emily felt utterly violated; she was not expecting a stranger to bring up her private matters, let alone tell her what she was allowed to do or not allowed to do based on her personal painful past that she had never consented to sharing. Her supervisor stated “I fully sympathise [with] you feeling you’re not treated like other students and feeling offended by that. At the same time, however, I also understand that what has happened has not only shaped you, but also UvA staff and that they do give [sic, recte take] previous times into account.” Emily was never informed of any conditionalities when she was re-accepted into the Master’s program. The following week, the director of the program informed Emily that she was now allowed to participate in the project she was initially excluded from since budgetary issues were resolved. Now there was an additional position available. Realizing that her private information was not only inappropriately used, but also was exploited as a pretext for budgetary issues, she emailed her supervisor. She confirmed that the issue was indeed an administrative matter, stating “'using your rape experience against you for the sake of money' is not an accurate description of the decisions initially taken. Monetary issues played their part, but only b/c, in principle, the project had space for only two students. I.e. a decision had to be taken considering three students were interested.” After the series of events: 1. being publicly humiliated, 2. having her trauma exploited, and 3. being completely stripped of dignity and personal autonomy, Emily felt as though she was raped all over again. She filed complaints for harassment, privacy violations and discrimination. She specifically stated that she had never consented to disclosing her confidential information, let alone having it assessed or used for arbitrary and unilateral decisions by faculty members who had no medical qualifications. She requested that the university rectify the issues and ensure her that it would never happen again. In response to Emily’s complaints, the director relentlessly brought up Emily’s untruthful “mental problems” and undermined her credibility. The director claimed that Emily’s professors and classmates had reported that she had been “easily emotionally agitated” and expressed their concerns about her mental well-being at the beginning of the semester. The director used this story to justify her action in class. She claimed that she was not aware of the details of Emily’s private information, and therefore, was not capable of violating her privacy. She also claimed that there had never been a decision to exclude Emily from the project. Emily’s supervisor likewise testified that she had never told Emily that she had been excluded, and denied there had ever been such a decision. The University of Amsterdam officially supported all of the director’s claims and dismissed all of Emily’s complaints. Emily did not know what to believe after being told that her professors and classmates, behind her back, had reported her “mental problems”, which she herself had absolutely not been aware of. Moreover, Emily’s another professor, who had nothing to do with the complaints, showed up at the hearing in support of the director, thereby taking a stance against Emily, despite repeated pleas from Emily that the university handle the complaints confidentially and with sensitivity. Emily was also very puzzled by her supervisor’s testimony, especially since she had always shown sympathy for Emily’s trouble with the director. Furthermore, when Emily expressed her concern about her complaints putting her supervisor in a difficult position at the university, she responded “I would have no problems whatsoever.” Because Emily fully trusted her honesty, she believed this must have been some kind of mistake, and decided to ask her about the testimony. Her supervisor refused to explain and dismissed Emily from her supervision. After that series of events, Emily felt as though everyone was against her, and nobody would believe anything she would say. She felt completely isolated, powerless, worthless and hopeless. When she finally talked with her classmates in June 2015, they were completely shocked and assured her that they had never reported anything about her to the director. They had not noticed anything unusual about Emily, and besides, they would not have bothered to report anything to the director even if a new classmate had come off as different. They were never informed of or consented to their “testimony” which they had never provided. They also agreed that it would have been impossible for professors to pay attention to and observe one particular student among more than 30 students and determine her emotional state during the first few lectures. They signed to confirm that they had never reported anything about Emily, and also wrote supporting letters describing her with words such as: conscientious, hardworking, friendly, passionate, responsible and kind, and called her someone with integrity, diligence, respect, intelligence and empathy, and strongly asserted that the university’s claims had inconsistencies.   In July 2015, Emily received a letter from the dean of graduate school, informing her that she was not allowed to conduct any fieldwork project out of “a concern for her well-being”. Once again, she was denied her right to education based on her private matters that she had never confirmed, never consented to sharing or having assessed or used by faculty members. She lodged an appeal against this decision. In response, the dean apologized for her feelings and misunderstandings, but denied any wrongful acts or discrimination. When she inquired about the letter, he informally admitted that the letter had actually been written by the director while he was on vacation, and therefore, he had not even read or approved the letter. When Emily asked him why he would not formally state so and why the director was not held accountable, he explained that it would affect his secretary because she helped the director send the letter. Emily has been contending that the dean’s explanations and excuses for “his decision” are pointless and nonsense especially since he is merely a scapegoat who has been cluelessly held responsible for the director’s actions. He is not capable of explaining “his decision” because he never made the decision to begin with. Emily is continuing to demand the issues be rectified based on the whole truth, with integrity, accountability and transparency. In September 2016, the university invalidated all of Emily’s earned academic credits stating that she made no academic progress in the past year. Emily could not make academic progress because the director forbade her from progressing. Furthermore, she was in the process of appealing against the decision, which has been taking significant amount of time and is still ongoing because the dean has been talking nonsense and refusing to provide the whole truth. Without her academic credits, she will lose her student visa, and will have to leave the country. In my opinion, this is whistleblower retaliation, which enables the university to remove her from the country and get rid of the accusations altogether. During the whole ordeal, Emily has been obliged to continue paying her tuition fees (14700 euros per year) even though she has been denied the education that she has been paying for. On the other hand, the university staff has been continuing with their lives and work without consequences, as if Emily does not exist. As Emily’s friend, I find the whole situation outrageous beyond what words can describe. Instead of reflecting on and rectifying their actions, this “educational” institution has been doing what it takes to cover up their misconduct and circumvent responsibility. Their actions make a mockery of not only Emily’s courage but also of the whole Dutch education system, whose members work hard to maintain a high standard of institutional diligence and integrity. Moreover, Emily went back to study and focus on topics such as human rights and education. The inhumane attitude and behavior of her professors, whose specializations include education rights, children’s rights and gender equality has been the ultimate betrayal to Emily’s hopes and desires to learn anything from these “experts”. After brutal rape, abuse, discrimination, injustices and retaliation, Emily has been through enough. She overcame horrific trauma she had never wished for. She decided to get her life back by finishing her Master’s degree. She stood up for herself only to ask to be treated like a normal human being. She continues to fight for justice, truth and integrity because that is what she believes in and stands for. She has done nothing to be ashamed of. She deserves justice and the completion of her Master's degree in an environment where her fundamental rights are not violated by university staff. Therefore, with this petition, I formally request the following.   Requests The Ministry of Education, Culture and Science and the Government of the Netherlands: Conduct an independent, thorough inquiry into Emily’s original complaints, the university’s subsequent cover-ups and retaliation, and hold individuals accountable for their misconduct Immigration and Naturalisation Service, Ministry of Security and Justice of the Netherlands: Ensure that Emily will not lose her student visa until her graduation The University of Amsterdam: Retract the invalidation of Emily’s academic credits and exempt her from paying tuition until the ongoing situation is resolved   When I saw Emily just before she left for the Netherlands, she was very vibrant and thrilled to finally complete her Master’s degree. I want to see her return with her same happy face with her diploma. Please imagine Emily is you or your loved one. If you are willing to support Emily, please sign this petition. Thank you.  #enoughbsUvA

Rachel Weston
1,404 supporters
Update posted 9 hours ago

Petition to Tower Hamlets Development Committee

STOP SAINSBURY'S, SAVE WHITECHAPEL

What’s the story? Sainsbury’s have submitted plans to Tower Hamlets Council for an over-sized development of their megastore in Whitechapel, east London. Whitechapel is a diverse and ever changing area, which makes its character all the richer. However the proposals, based primarily on cashing in on high value apartments, causes irreversible harm to the surrounding community and environment.  1. Disproportionate Scale The development is radically out of context with the surrounding low-rise Whitechapel area. The proposed 28 storey tower (101m) would be the tallest building in the 3 mile stretch between at Aldgate and Canary Wharf. Even the eight ‘smaller’ blocks of up to 15 storeys (59m) would introduce a density beyond Council guidelines. The enormous tower will block daylight to hundreds of homes and businesses, and overlook countless more. 2. Damage to Local Heritage The scheme will overwhelm the historic setting of the Whitechapel Market and Stepney Green Conservation Areas and their 52 listed buildings. The tower also intrudes significantly on the Grade 1 listed Trinity Green Almshouses, sited just 100m to the east of the site. The current proposals demonstrate little evidence of how this remarkable context has influenced the design, which Historic England has described as “substantially harmful”. 3. Lack of Affordable Housing Of the proposed 559 residential apartments only 89 apartments (16%) are to be ‘affordable’, falling far short of the Council’s targets of 35-50% to align with the London Plan. A tiny 6% are family dwellings, making the mix wholly inappropriate for this part of Whitechapel, and doing little to address the wider London housing crisis.  What can I do? Please support this campaign by signing this petition - it takes just a few seconds, and please spread the word! Opposition has been raised by Historic England, the Georgian Group, SPAB, the Victorian Society and the East End Preservation Society but we need much more support to ensure the development is rejected by Tower Hamlets council. You can send your objections to Tower Hamlets Council to dr.developmentcontrol@towerhamlets.gov.uk (ref:PA/15/00837), and join the Friends of Trinity Green at www.friendsoftrinitygreen.co.uk where you can find a template letter objection. STOP SAINSBURYS, SAVE WHITECHAPEL Thank you for your support. 

Friends of Trinity Green
5,485 supporters
This petition won 2 days ago

Petition to Mr. Steven VANDEPUT

Do not close the Army Base at Bastogne but keep it as a WWII - Battle of the Bulge - Historical Remembrance Site !

Important American Historical Marker at Bastogne to be bulldozed ? As you may already understand, the Belgian Army is, once again, facing drastic financial cutbacks over the next few years.  Despite the substantial number of closings that have been effected in the past, a new wave of shut-downs for other Army Bases will soon become a reality. Sadly, this information will quite likely pass with little fanfare or publicity through media, as it is the norm for our times.  And it is my fear that people may miss one of the most tragic details these actions would include:   The closing of Bastogne's Army Base and the most important Historical Marker of the defense of Bastogne by the 101st Airborne Division and attached units in World War II. The Army Base was the 101st Airborne Headquarters during the siege at the end of December 1944.  This base was, indeed, the Headquarters where General McAuliffe responded with his historical message to the Germans' demand for surrender: “NUTS.” The Base was the very center of all decisions made that helped to hold and, ultimately, stop the Germans in their war efforts. It was also a very large aid station for the many wounded soldiers who fought so valiantly to hold Bastogne. The first wave of closing down Army Bases included already the Army Base at Bastogne,  but after successful lobbying one managed to preserve it. The Base is now under supervision of the «Royal Army Museum and Military History» in Brussels. But one might fail this second time…. ! For more than 15 years, the military stationed at Bastogne, together with an extremely motivated group of volunteers have tirelessly worked to preserve the history of this area and to maintain the marker. They managed to reopen the HQ buildings and caves.  The volunteers and supporters have worked tirelessly with deep emotion in order to protect the history of these military barracks so that it remains as if time has stood still, allowing visitors to feel as if they’re walking back right onto a page of history.  They’ve used their personal equipment and purchased materials, have worked many late hours and weekends to maintain an exceptional, authentic, and welcoming environment for the thousands of visitors who come from all over the world each year, including hundreds of WWII veterans ! During the Commemoration weekend in December the Base welcomed over 12.000 visitors in 2 days ! To do nothing and watch these closings would be a tragedy and one from which there is no recovery.  The value of our history cannot be expressed in mere words.  I believe E.H. Carr stated it quite correctly when he said:  “…the function of the historian is to master and understand the past as the key to understanding the present.”   We must not lose a part of our history, and we most desperately need your help!  Please spread the word of these impending closings and use every resource you may have, whether it’s political; military (high ranked or other) to show the dedication we have to our history.  We need to bring a very large amount of pressure upon the Belgian Government, the Department of Defense, the Military through NATO and other channels as well as the Mayor and City Council of Bastogne, if we hope to save our base. In Dutch/Nederlands Wordt een belangrijke Amerikaanse historische site in Bastogne platgewalst? Zoals u wellicht al begrijpt wordt het Belgische leger nogmaals geconfronteerd met drastische bezuinigingen in de komende jaren. Ondanks het grote aantal sluitingen die reeds zijn verricht in het verleden, zal een nieuwe golf van sluitingen andere legerbasissen binnenkort bedreigen. Helaas zal deze informatie vermoedelijk maar een beetje aandacht krijgen in de media, want het is jammer genoeg de norm van deze tijd. We zijn angstig voor het feit dat de meesten onder ons hierdoor een van de meest tragische gebeurtenissen uit het oog zullen verliezen: het sluiten van de legerbasis in Bastogne en mede hierdoor de belangrijkste historische site in de verdediging van Bastogne door de 101e Airborne Division en toegevoegde eenheden in de Tweede Wereldoorlog. Bastogne is voor de 2de wereldoorlog wat Ieper is voor de 1e wereldoorlog. De legerbasis was het hoofdkwartier van de 101e Airborne tijdens het beleg van de stad, eind december 1944. Deze basis was, inderdaad, het hoofdkwartier waar Generaal McAuliffe reageerde met zijn historische boodschap aan de Duitsers bij de vraag om zich over te geven : "NUTS" De site was het centrum waar alle beslissingen werden genomen die nodig waren om stad niet prijs te geven en, uiteindelijk, de Duitsers hun offensief te laten stoppen. Het was tegelijk een grote hulppost voor de vele gewonde soldaten die zo dapper gevochten hadden om Bastogne te kunnen houden. In de eerste golf van sluitingen was de legerbasis van Bastogne reeds opgenomen, maar na een succesvolle lobby was men erin geslaagd om haar te bewaren. De basis is nu onder toezicht van het «Koninklijk Legermuseum en de Krijgsgeschiedenis» in Brussel. Maar we kunnen nu wel deze tweede keer falen .... ! Reeds meer dan 10 jaar, hebben de militairen, gestationeerd in Bastogne, samen met een zeer gemotiveerde groep vrijwilligers onvermoeibaar gewerkt om de geschiedenis van deze site te behouden. Ze slaagden erin om de historische gebouwen en kelders te heropenen. Ook vrijwilligers en supporters hebben onvermoeibaar gewerkt, met diepe emotie en trots, om de geschiedenis van deze kazerne te beschermen, zodat het net lijkt  alsof de tijd heeft stil gestaan, waardoor de bezoekers het gevoel krijgen alsof ze rechtstreeks deel uitmaken van deze bladzijde uit de geschiedenis. Ze gebruikten soms persoonlijke uitrusting en aangekochte materialen, werkten vele late uren en in de weekends om een uitzonderlijke, authentieke en gastvrije omgeving voor de duizenden bezoekers te doen ontstaan, bezoekers die van over de hele wereld komen kijken, elk jaar, met in hun rangen honderden veteranen!  Tijdens het herdenkingsweekend in december, waar ook de minister van Defensie aanwezig was, verwelkomde de basis meer dan 12.000 bezoekers, en dit op 2 dagen tijd ! Niets doen en aan de kantlijn blijven staan zou één grote tragedie zijn, want eens beslist is er geen weg terug. De belangrijkheid van onze geschiedenis kan niet worden uitgedrukt in louter woorden. Ik begrijp E.H. Carr zijn verklaring heel goed toen hij zei: ". ... De functie van de historicus is om het verleden te beheersen en te begrijpen als sleutel voor het begrijpen van het heden" We kunnen niet zonder meer aanschouwen dat we een deel van onze geschiedenis kunnen verliezen, en we hebben daarom uw hulp dringend nodig! Gelieve het bericht van deze dreigende sluiting te willen verspreiden en gelieve alle middelen in uw bezit te willen gebruiken, of het nu politieke, militaire of andere zijn, zodat we onze toewijding aan de geschiedenis kunnen laten opmerken. We moeten zoveel mogelijk druk op de Belgische regering uitoefenen, op het ministerie van Defensie, via de NAVO of andere kanalen, evenals de burgemeester en de gemeenteraad van Bastogne…, zo hopen we onze basis te kunnen redden.    Texte en Français - Text in French: Comme vous l’avez déjà compris, l'armée belge doit une fois de plus, faire face à des compressions financières drastiques. Malgré le nombre important de fermetures de casernes qui ont été effectuées dans le passé, une nouvelle vague de fermetures va bientôt devenir une réalité.  Malheureusement, cette information passera très probablement sans tambours ni clairons à travers les médias, comme c'est la norme pour notre temps. Ainsi, je crains fort que les gens puissent manquer l'un des détails les plus tragiques de ces actions: la fermeture de la caserne de Bastogne qui est le plus important endroit historique de la défense de Bastogne par la 101e Division Aéroportée et toutes les Unités rattachées pendant la Seconde Guerre mondiale.             Cette casernea hébergé le Quartier Général de la 101st Airborne pendant le siège de la ville à la fin de Décembre 1944. C’est exactement depuis ces lieux que le Général McAuliffe a rétorqué son désormais fameux « N.U.T.S. ! » à la demande de reddition des allemands le 22 Décembre 1944.  La caserne a été le centre de toutes les décisions prises qui ont contribué à maintenir et, finalement, arrêter les Allemands dans leurs efforts de guerre. Elle a également accueilli en son sein un important poste de premiers soins où de nombreux vaillants défendeurs de la ville étaient soignés par, entre-autre, cette héroïne qu’est cette infirmière civile Augusta Chiwi.             La première vague de fermeture de casernes prévoyait déjà celle de Bastogne, mais après un premier combat de votre part à tous, nous avions réussi à renverser la vapeur et ainsi réussi à la préserver. Une partie de la caserne sert maintenant au profit du Musée Royal de l’Armée et d’Histoire Militaire de Bruxelles (KLM-MRA). Depuis près de dix ans, les militaires stationnés à Bastogne, en collaboration avec un groupe de bénévoles très motivés ont travaillé sans relâche pour préserver l'histoire de cette région et de maintenir un de ses plus importants endroits historiques en état. Les militaires, les bénévoles et les sympathisants ont travaillé sans relâche avec une profonde émotion afin de protéger l'histoire de cet espace au sein de la caserne de sorte qu'il demeure comme si le temps s’y était arrêté, ainsi permettant aux visiteurs de se plonger directement dans l’Histoire. Au début ils ont même utilisé leur équipement personnel et des matériaux achetés de leurs propres deniers, ont travaillé de longues heures et les week-ends afin de maintenir un environnement exceptionnel et authentique pour, depuis Octobre 2010 sous la direction du MRA, accueillir des milliers de visiteurs qui viennent de partout dans le monde, y compris des centaines d’anciens combattants de la Seconde Guerre mondiale! Pendant le week-end des Commémorations de Décembre2014, la base a accueilli plus de 12.000 visiteurs en deux jours! Ne rien faire pour empêcher cette fermeture serait une tragédie pour laquelle il n’y aura pas de retour possible ! La valeur de notre Histoire ne peut pas être exprimée en quelques mots. Je comprends Edward H. Carr quand il déclara : "... la fonction de l'historien est de maîtriser et de comprendre le passé comme la clé pour comprendre le présent."   A travers la fermeture de la caserne, nous ne pouvons pas perdre une partie de notre histoire ! Nous avons désespérément besoin de votre aide! S’il vous plaît, veuillez répandre la parole de cette possible fermeture et utilisez toutes les ressources que vous pourriez avoir qu'elles soient politiques, militaires (de haut rang ou autre), civiles belges ou étrangères pour montrer le dévouement que nous avons à notre Histoire. Nous devons apporter une très grande quantité de pression sur le gouvernement belge via le Ministère de la Défense. Et aussi alerter le Bourgmestre, Monsieur Benoît Lutgen  et le Conseil Communal de Bastogne, si nous voulons sauver notre base.

Filip Willems
9,063 supporters
Update posted 2 days ago

Petition to Roby Smith, Jim Lykam, Cindy Winckler, Norlin Mommsen, Gary Mohr, Ross Paustian, Phyllis Thede, Mike Pence, Donald Trump, Iowa State House, Robert Hogg

Supporting the Action of Superintendent Tate

Dear Governor Branstad, Lieutenant Governor Reynolds and Davenport Community Legislators:    SUBJECT: Petition Supporting the Action of Superintendent Tate to Assure that Our Students are Not Valued Less than Other Iowa Students We the people of  Davenport and surrounding communities wish to express our support for Davenport Community School District Superintendent Art Tate and our local school board members. We elected these board members to stand up for the interests of our students and that is exactly what they have done in demanding that our children are treated equally as others across the state. We are conscientious citizens who do not condone breaking the law, however, when the legislature refuses to recognize the failure of the 40 year old education funding formula to treat our students fairly, drastic actions are called for. We request you take action immediately to recognize that Dr. Tate is doing the right thing by using the District’s Reserve Funds to allow him to expend the same amount of funding for our students as those districts across the state that are funded at the highest level. If our students don't deserve the same level of funding please explain why. Our legislators have all stated that education is their first priority. As constituents all we ask is that you recognize the simple moral principle of equality. Thank you for supporting Dr. Tate, our students and our faith in democracy.        

Jennifer Wader
986 supporters