At the Faculty of Architecture of Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e), a commotion has arisen after the dean of the faculty pointed out to Dutch students, in a letter, that English is the official language. “English should be spoken at all times.”
In the letter, the dean, Theo Salet, says that several complaints had been received. Various anonymous sources found the way in which lessons were taught in English and how the students talked among themselves in Dutch disturbing.
“We strive to be an inclusive faculty and this means that we must do our best not to burden our international students and staff with an unnecessary and rather inappropriate sense of guilt when in their presence the conversation changes from Dutch to English,” Salet wrote among other things.
Response Faculty of Architecture
Soon there were many negative reactions to Theo Salet’s letter, even ‘GeenStijl’ national news site ran with it. The dean said that the strict tone which many read in the letter, was not intended: “We had chosen to put a number of issues in a letter clearly grouped together. That way, students and staff would know where we want to go. But this approach does not seem to have worked; with it, it seems that we have actually driven people apart more than we have brought them together.”
A letter for a letter
Dennis Andreoli, master’s student Urban Systems and Real Estate, sent the dean back a letter, in Dutch, via university magazine Cursor. To Dennis, it felt as if the dean was calling for the banishment of the Dutch language, methods and culture from education. “An extremely unreasonable and ill-considered call, as far as I am concerned,” the student said.
Andreoli did say, however, that he understood what the dean wanted to say and that he would like to have a discussion with Professor Salet about improving the environment for internationals. The dean has read the letter and he would like to talk to the student.