On Monday 9 March, a few hours after the ultimatum posed by ReThink UvA had passed, the Executive Board had planned the first of a series of weekly discussions with staff and students in the CREA university theater. The debate was very well attended: more than 100 people were present inside the auditorium, and another 100 in the overflow space. The program was organized to facilitate a traditional debate, in which the CvB set the terms for discussion, and would be in clear control of the proceedings. But in response to the Board’s breaking of our ultimatum, ReThink UvA staff and students had planned a playful democratic intervention.
After the formal intro and agenda, a staff member took the mic and declared that in light of the CvB’s response of earlier this morning, we have decided to demonstrate what democracy is, sound our own voice, and conduct a slightly different debate with a new agenda. When asked “who we are,” most of the crowd present rose to their feet with signs saying “Het Maagdenhuis is hier” and moved to clear the chairs, sat on the ground, and began a new conversation. The original moderator tried to hang on to his job for a little while, but eventually yielded the floor to a student moderator.
Rector magnificus Dymph van der Boom (the only CvB member there to begin with) stayed and took a seat with everyone else, more or less. The moderator then inventoried people’s agenda points: how to build trust, how to organize locally, and how to evaluate the CvB’s learning curve. Discussion followed, at some point turning into an (unfruitful) back and forth between students/staff and the rector. This was reoriented into a discussion of how those present think trust can be restored and democratization enacted. After one hour, the discussion was brought to an end. The rector proceeded to leave the hall, only to be confronted by dozens of students and staff sitting on the ground, both inside and outside the building, in silent protest against the CvB’s lack of response.