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The past college year in most-read articles

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Summer break is knocking on our door. Before heading towards sunny destinations, it’s time to do a little throwback to the past year. What happened over the last year? We'll summarise it for you with the most-read articles from DUB.

#MeToo
After American film producer Harvey Weinstein was publicly accused of sexual harassment by several women, thousands of women took to social media to share their own experiences with sexual harassment. Story after story was shared with hashtag #MeToo. It turned out that sexual harassment is not just an issue in Hollywood, but at the university as well. Dub investigated the situation at Utrecht University. According to the annual report from the UU counsellor for inappropriate behaviour, one student and two employees reported instances of sexual harassment in 2016. This was lower than the number of people who said they had experienced inappropriate behaviour, according to the employee monitor. DUB talked to counsellor Jeanette van Rees to ask whether this was only the tip of the iceberg or not

After the #MeToo discussions, more students and employees reported (sexual)harassment at the Utrecht University, according to the counsellor’s annual report that was released last April. It’s uncertain whether the discussion actually helped increase the number of reports, but in 2017, eight people reported an incident. Five of them came to the counsellor after the hashtag was launched.
Study spots
If you've ever tried to find a place to study in the University Library during exam weeks, you’ll know it’s a survival of the fittest. You need to show up early, present your ID Card, and then, as soon as the gates open, quickly find your way to your favourite study spot. If you’re ten minutes late, you won’t have a chance of finding a place. Once you’ve claimed a spot, people expect you not to leave it unattended for too long, not to make many sounds (or any at all, preferably), and eat elsewhere. UU-alumni Maria, Masha, Slava and Kamila figured there had to be another way. At the beginning of this college year, they started a study spot initiative.

The scarcity of study spots in the University Library isn’t a new issue. The complaints are an annually recurring tradition. The past few years, the topic was a steady presence on the agenda of the University Council’s students members. The students regularly wondered why non-UU students are welcome at all in “their” already crowded library during exam weeks. An inventory during April’s exam period showed that 40 percent of the study spots was occupied by non-UU people. There were students from the University of Humanistic Studies, the Utrecht School of Arts and the Utrecht University of Applied Sciences (HU). Even some vocational colleges (mbo) and high school students used the library spots. As a result of the inventory, the UU decided that in the first exam period after summer, spots in the University Library will be exclusively reserved for UU-students.

The ban might result in less commotion within the library too, because UU-students won’t be surprised by theatre students who dress up as wizards. The mystery around the Gandalf-inspired guy that yelled loudly “You shall not pass” during the Pentecost weekend, was so big that DUB’s article about him was almost the most-read of the entire year.
Internationalisation
During the last college year internationalisation was often debated. The question, for examle whether the university is responsible for arranging proper housing for international students when they're actively promoting studying in Utrecht. Or, whether, a rector who's dreaming of an international university population should hold his speech in Dutch, or lead by example and speak English. And if we want to become an international community, why aren't important documents not translated? A hotline and petition against Englification were even launched by a national student party.

“Quality sustainability and desirability of the growing English programmes are being questioned, especially where the national budget for education is concerned”, Vietnamese student Thao Lam concluded. “These calls for reconsideration of internationalisation of Dutch universities hit close to home.” But although all the challenges and questions are still unanswered, she doensn't think it should mean the end of internationalisation. Her plea was the best read article on internalisation last year.

Internationalisation isn’t only gloom and doom, as Dutch journalist Jelle Talsma experienced. He went to an international comedy evening hosted by international students. Dutch culture was enthusiastically torn to shreds during the evening. “The one word you need to know is ‘gezellig’. Use it for everything, and all will be well.”

Other sunny news came just before summer holiday, when the university and SSH both announced new plans to help international students with their housing problems. The university decided to reserve more rooms for students from abroad. Additionally the UU decided to rent hostels, recreational camps and even a boat to host students temporarily. And SSH Houses where a room will become available this summer, can choose whether they want a Dutch housemate or an international one. 250 units are expected to have the possibility of having an international student come interview for a room, during the SSH pilot.
Diversity
Although diversity and internationalisation are intertwined, they are not the same. So simultaneously with the internalisation discussion, diversity is also discussedat Utrecht University. DUB went back to its roots as an offline University Magazine and created a special issue on diversity. We focused to the question of what makes people feel at home at the UU. We searched for the answer on the question how a diverse community can be achieved. Professor of Language and Cultural Studies, Berteke Waaldijk, advised on how to handle a diverse classroom. And we questioned our readers on different dilemmas. It turned out that most of them thought Sinterklaas could stay but with an alternative for Black Pete, and only 22 percent was against gender neutral toilets.

With that last point the Utrecht University started a pilot this academic year year. Three bathrooms of the university were transformed into gender-neutral toilets.

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