Unidentified persons have hung the Frisian flag at half-mast on the Academy Building in Groningen today, in an apparent protest against the decision by the University of Groningen not to appoint a new professor of the Frisian language, the Dagblad van het Noorden reports.
Who lowered the flag is not known, but the demarche follows the cancellation of the professorship for Frisian language and history after the retirement of Goffe Jensma, a RUG professor who specialized in Frisian linguistics and history.
Frisian is integral to the heritage and national identity of the Netherlands. It is one of the country’s oldest languages but historical events such as the dissolution of formerly united Frisia in the medieval times and carving up of its domains between Germany and the Netherlands, have impacted its growth dramatically.
Despite a comparatively high number of native speakers, Frisian is currently a vulnerable minority language because of present-day low levels of literacy and lack of inter-generational language transmission. Hence the fear among Frisian speakers that the abolition of the Frisian language professorship will only contribute to the language’s further transformation into a predominantly oral language.
According to Omrop Fryslân, the flag was later taken down and removed.
In a separate development, the Global Responsibility and Leadership program, taught at Groningen University’s Campus Fryslȃn, has been rated as the best bachelor’s program in of the Netherlands. The hands-on course is inspired by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and dedicated to training new generations of leaders.
The prestigious honor was awarded by Keuzegids, an independent Dutch consumer guide that rates university programs across the country.