Students demand changes at Belgian university after faculty accused of abuse

Students demand changes at Belgian university after faculty accused of abuse
The Université Libre de Bruxelles has been allegedly been covering up for a scholar accused of harassment, scientific fraud and other accusations for years. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Students at a Belgian university demanded changes and released a form to report abuse earlier this month after news broke of harassment in the dentistry programme.

Two professors from the Free University of Brussels (ULB) were suspended and an internal investigation was launched earlier in June after a 97-page report documenting abuse and harassment was submitted to the university.

In a Facebook post on 5 June, the ULB Office of Student Administrators (BEA) demanded several changes be made to the evaluation and disciplinary processes to prevent such harassment in the future.

It asks that administration pay more attention to the dentistry programme, reviews regulations regarding disciplinary commissions, and that the BEA is included in this process, among other requests.

Students in the dentistry programme dispute the university's claim that it did not know about the abuse, saying through the BEA that officials "have been aware for several years of recurrent harassment in the dentistry section."

"The disclosures in this document are inadmissible," the BEA wrote on Facebook. "We cannot remain silent in front of them. The learning conditions of the students cannot remain deplorable at this point."

Additionally, the BEA released a form for students to anonymously report any abuse.

The BEA also said that neither it nor the Faculty Office of Medicine (BEM) had been contacted by the university.

On Thursday, one of the two suspended professors denied all accusations against him. Thierry Charles said in an interview with RTBF that he was a demanding professor but did not cross the line into abuse. He also criticized the standards of the original survey which reported the harassment.

The student statement and form were sent to ULB students via email.

Sam Nelson

The Brussels Times

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