Continued concern over covid measures

Freedom of Choice is concerned over WUR’s accessibility.

Covid seems to have passed its peak. It is a matter of time before the remote working advice is retracted. Students are back on campus for their lectures. But, how will WUR respond, and how will colleagues interact in the future? The recently formed workgroup Freedom of Choice for work and study is worried. They call for an extensive dialogue within WUR.

The group was formed six months ago after an article on the intranet on the ethical aspects of the covid policies, says spokesperson Paul van Leeuwen. ‘The article led to many reactions going back and forth, from which the workgroup emerged. We are 29 WUR colleagues that meet once or twice a month to discuss the corona policy.’

Not reassured

‘The key concern is access to work and study’, says co-spokesperson Mireille van Hilten. ‘This access must be safeguarded, regardless of anyone’s personal health status.’ More to the point: regardless of a covid-pass or a person’s vaccination status. A covid pass is not used in higher education. ‘But we are not reassured that this will remain the case, even though the government claims they wish to ease the measures.’

Taboo may not be the right word, but it certainly is a sensitive issue

Mireille van Hilten, Freedom of Choice

To be clear: Freedom of Choice is not a club of rabid covid-deniers. Van Leeuwen: ‘I am not vaccinated, but our group includes those that are, who are also concerned about the accessibility of education and work. We want to enter into a dialogue with colleagues, regardless of your opinions on the whole covid issue. How is the covid policy affecting us?’

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A concrete example. Van Hilten: ‘Suppose a colleague’s farewell takes place in a restaurant. Someone who is unvaccinated is required to take a test, or they will be unable to attend. The spread of the virus is also concerning if you lean exclusively on people being vaccinated without testing. Is WUR able to facilitate alternatives? None are currently being organised.’

Critical questions

Discussing one’s vaccination status is difficult, says Van Hilten. ‘Taboo may not be the right word, but it certainly is a sensitive issue.’ ‘I feel that the government and the EB consider being vaccinated the standard’, Van Leeuwen adds. ‘And that really is a big deal. I miss WUR’s function as an independent institute that puts forward critical questions.’

We want to stimulate a dialogue

Paul van Leeuwen, Freedom of Choice

‘The executive board says they follow the government guidelines’, he continues, ‘regardless of the opinions of the employees or students. This worries us. We are not being contrary, and we don’t claim we know better, but we do call for our concerns to be addressed.’ ‘We are researchers’, Van Hilten adds. ‘To us, asking questions and wanting to understand what is happening is natural.’

‘We want to stimulate a dialogue’, Van Leeuwen says. ‘And WUR should facilitate. This is a relevant work issue. Our group has 29 members, which may not be much in relation to WUR’s 6000 employees. Still, we are aware that many colleagues share our concerns but are afraid to speak up. We want to serve as their mouthpiece.’

The workgroup Freedom of Choice ( invites employees and students to take part in their discussions. Students have united in Studenten voor Vrijheid Wageningen (Students for Freedom Wageningen or Instagram @svvwageningen)

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