University Post
University of Copenhagen
Independent of management


Anthropology students: We should also have our say

Open letter — Bjarke Oxlund's resignation and Mikkel Vedby Rasmussen's temporary takeover as head of the Department of Anthropology is a major concern to us. We students have the right to know what the causes and consequences of this decision is, the Academic Council at Anthropology writes.

Dear Mikkel Vedby Rasmussen and Bjarke Oxlund

It is far from normal that a head of department is selected to come from outside the department itself. And it is almost unheard of that the choice falls upon a person without subject-specific knowledge, and who, at the same time, has to handle another demanding full-time position as Dean.

We students have not had the reasoning behind this drastic decision explained to us. We can only speculate on the basis of two opinion pieces by Dean Mikkel Vedby Rasmussen and Associate Professor Heiko Henkel that were published in the University Post last week. According to the opinion piece from Heiko Henkel, the decision is based on an assessment that the Department of Anthropology is so challenged, that none of the department’s three deputy heads of department or any other staff can handle the position. However, in his response, the Dean does not give a clear reason why, specifically, he should take on the position of head of department.

Among us, the students, this lack of transparency and reasoning behind the change in management has set off concerns about our subject and our profession. We have chosen to write this open letter to make it clear to you, that we also have a voice. The future of the department is also our future. When decisions about top management are taken outside of the student councils and the rest of the administration, then we need to take a stand. We are entitled to know the reasons for, and the consequences of, this extraordinary management change.


This is a featured comment/opinion piece. It expresses the author’s own opinion.

We encourage everyone to read the whole piece before commenting on social media, so that we only get constructive contributions.

Disagreement is good, but remember to uphold a civil and respectful tone.

READ ALSO: Associate professor: The social science dean has gone completely nuts

READ ALSO: Dean Mikkel Vedby Rasmussen’s response.

According to Henkel’s featured comment, the Dean intends to introduce ’dramatic change’ to the department – changes which the dean will not, in turn, comment on, in his response. The latest round of cuts has already affected our study programme a lot. More specifically, it resulted in a round of layoffs, fewer elective courses, and that the admission of new anthropology students was cut back by one third. As we have already gone through a deterioration in the quality of our teaching and the study environment, the prospect of ‘dramatic changes’ leads to a good deal of uncertainty about our future.

We would like to invite you – and anyone else interested – to an open debate with the students on 21 November at 5 pm in the Katten, building 16 at CSS. We hope that we can work together to discuss our questions and concerns. We have chosen to publish this invitation in an open letter to reflect our desire for greater transparency, dialogue and inclusion between anthropology students and management.

Read Dean Mikkel Vedby Rasmussen’s response to the students here.