Background on the red square

Why now?

The red square is worn by students, teachers and everybody else within and outside of the university, who will no longer take the current university systems.

The red square is a simple, but effective symbol. It is very recognizable, but to make one you need nothing but a piece of felt and a safety-pin. In the mean time this symbol has been proven to be a great way to open the conversation on what is going wrong in the Dutch higher education system. The red square is used to advocate for an inclusive, decolonized university. It is used to appeal to the Dutch government to stop the doelmatigheidskorting (budget cut) of 183 million on education and the decreasing rijksbijdrage (governmental financial support to universities) per student. The rijksbijdrage has decreased by 25% since 2002. The red square demands furhter investments, within a system where universities are not governed like factories assessed by theire quantitative output. Lastly, the symbol is used at a local level to address to the responsibilities of university boards and for example undo specific education cuts.

History

The red square is a symbol of resistance and protest in higher education. Resistance against rendementsdenken and budget cuts, neoliberalism and a lack of inclusiveness and diversity. The history of the red square as a symbol of protest in higher education goes back to protests in Quebec (Canada) in 2004. In 2005 and 2012 tenthousends of students joined in protest marches and strikes against strong cuts on student grants and raises in tuition fee. In 2012 demonstrations where joint by over 200.000 participants and almost equally big student strikes, which lead to the abolishment of the increase in tuition fees.

Later, the red square came back as a symbol during several higher education protests over the world. Thus also in Amsterdam, in 2014 and 2015, during protests against cuts on humanities and in favor of democratizaiton and decentralisation of education. The squares were all around during occupations of the Bungehuis and Maagdenhuis and were worn outside of the occupations by those showing solidarity with the demands of the occupiers.