The universities, research funder NWO (Dutch Research Council) and science association KNAW launched the WetenschapVeilig platform today. The platform was officially launched in the presence of Minister Dijkgraaf and the scientists involved.
The platform was announced a year ago due to the increasing number of threats directed against scientists by conspiracy theorists, radical groups and social media trolls. It has been modelled after the PersVeilig platform, which supports journalists that receive threats.
‘The fact that scientists are faced with threats, intimidation and hate speech during their work is inadmissible’, says Pieter Duisenberg, chair of the association of universities UNL. ‘The impact on our people is enormous, and we consider these threats an attack on academic freedom.’
The platform aims to offer scientists the right help quickly. The hotline is available day and night, and reports may also be submitted online. The reports thus submitted are forwarded to the victim’s employer, who then ‘contacts them within one business day’, according to the announcement.
The scientists who have received threats are then put into contact with HR officers, legal support, communication specialists or others that may provide assistance.
University administrators have repeatedly expressed their support for their scientific personnel. Last year they announced that threats, violence, stalking, burglary and theft will always be reported to the authorities. In his first public address, Robbert Dijkgraaf also called for more focus on the safety of scientists.