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Meeting about the alternative Humanities Campus: Faculty's wishes come first

What impact will the new workspace standards have? What will the adjustments cost? And can we use the former V&D building? Questions followed each other in quick succession during a meeting with staff of the Faculty of Humanities about the necessary adjustments to the Humanities Campus, now that the expropriation of the Doelencomplex will not take place. Dean of the faculty Mark Rutgers and Vice-chairman of the Executive Board Martijn Ridderbos where there to elaborate and answer questions.

Especially the workspace standards regularly came up during the partly in-person and partly online organised (hybrid) meeting. Several staff members wanted to know from Mark Rutgers and Ridderbos whether workspaces will indeed be getting smaller.  Both board members indicated that this university standard will indeed now also apply to the humanities faculty, but also that at the moment it is not yet certain what this will look like in practice. Ridderbos: ‘In the coming period, we will be looking into the best approach, together with the faculty and the institutes. If this is our availability, how can we best arrange it? This may differ per institute and per group. In addition, we also take into account the impact of working from home. We are still looking into it: at the moment, there is no alternative plan yet.’

No humanities in the former V&D building

Certain is, however, that no other buildings will be acquired to accommodate the faculty, such as the former V&D building, as some staff members suggested. The faculty will also not be moving to The Hague. It is namely very important that the faculty will remain located in the direct vicinity of the University Library, with her collections that are so important for the humanities. ‘We also like to come together to meet up with each other. Those meetings are, in addition to a calm workspace, very important to us’, says Rutgers.

As little delay as possible

Both board members find it important that the process of a new Humanities Campus suffers from as little delay as possible. Lipsius will be technically written off in 2029, which means that after that, large investments will be necessary to maintain it. It is therefore preferable to complete the campus before then. ‘As long as we keep talking about the outer edges of the puzzle – the amount of available space, costs and so on – we will not get around to completing the entire puzzle’, says Ridderbos. ‘I suggest that, together and within the frameworks that are now established, we look at where creativity can take place and what the possibilities are. In doing so, we should also strengthen the cooperation between Vastgoed and the faculty, and I myself will be more directly involved in this project.’

Good working and learning environment has priority

What is certain, is that changes in the plan will have to be implemented in order to align the Humanities Campus with the new reality. A frequently asked question is to what extent this affects the plans that are mainly beneficial to the urban development of the city of Leiden, such as the green square in the original plan. Several attendees urged to first look into the changes that can be made to that plan, before we look at work and study spaces. Rutger agreed. ‘As far as I’m concerned, it is faculty first. A good academic working and learning environment must take precedence over urban development. At the same time, we should take a proper look at what the best solution is, in consultation with the municipality, because the square is also a space for meeting each other and therefore valuable to us.’

Hidden spending cuts?

Ridderbos was firm in his answer to the question whether the alternative campus is used to implement hidden spending cuts, because the budget for the expropriation of the Doelencomplex was kept outside of the budget for the campus. ‘This is not the case. I might sound too technical, but the money for the expropriation of the Doelencomplex was a special budget to buy the land value. You don’t depreciate that. If you were to add that entire budget to the budget for the creation of the Humanities Campus, the annual depreciation costs would increase substantially. And that would be an undesirable development for the faculty. Rutgers: ‘The extra costs for the faculty could be at the expense of the personnel budget.’

Collecting questions

The meeting ended with the board members’ assurance that following steps will be taken in consultation with the faculty and its staff. ‘Something happened during the summer – the residents didn’t want to cooperate, the housing association left the cooperation – which caused the need for the development of an alternative plan’, says Rutgers. ‘Because of that, we have had to stand still, but it is not a stop to the consultation.’ Ridderbos adds: ‘In the next three weeks, we will be collecting questions. We will also be creating a plan for the organisation of the process of creating a new campus. In a couple of weeks, we would like to discuss this with you, as a next step. I hope to meet you again then.’

In the coming period, we will inform and involve staff members as much as possible, via different channels. On Thursday 28 October, the next plenary hybrid meeting on the alternative Humanities Campus will take place in the presence of Dean Mark Rutgers and Vice-Chairman of the Executive Board Martijn Ridderbos. Sign up for this via hc-info@hum.leidenuniv.nl or via the online form that will follow.

Do you have any questions in the meantime? Send an email to hc-info@hum.leidenuniv.nl.

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