Magazine on diversity: do you feel at home at the UU?

De cover van het magazine, foto Ivar Pel

It’s been about a year since the Taskforce Diversity was created. The goal of the UU group is to draw attention to the importance of diversity on both the work floor and the classrooms. The taskforce asked DUB to collaborate on a magazine about diversity and inclusivity – a term DUB interprets as feeling at home at the UU. With that idea in mind, we wrote ten articles that show, among other things, what (more) the UU could do to not only increase diversity at the university, but also take measures to ensure everyone feels heard and seen here.

The articles printed in the magazine can also be found online on DUB’s website – both in English and Dutch – and the online versions are often accompanied by questionnaires, videos or additional stories. The magazine opens with eight portraits of UU people who all feel (kind of) at home at the UU. The photos tell a story of the kinds of diverse people we have at the UU, but it’s not the average image you’d have of the university if you wander around its campuses. Several of the interviewed people mention the same in the elaborate interviews published online. To make everyone really feel at home here, the UU should not just focus on hiring more diverse people, but really brainstorm with its current staff and students, they say. For example, one interview illustrates that the coffee machine is only operable by people who can see, and another shows we need more color in our teaching staff.

DUB also visited the research groups of Gender Studies and Earth Science Tectonics, where the main language is English, a consequence of the many nationalities in the groups. If you read the stories, you’ll find that within that English language, the groups have also found their own way of community, and their own group culture. At Gender Studies, people are never labeled. The earth scientists have found a very direct way of communicating, in which humor is the most important factor.

In the magazine, the Science staff talks about how they try to fill their vacancies these days, trying to claw their way out of the old boys’ network, and staying on top of their own prejudices. Cultural anthropologists talk about how they’ve been trying to add more color to their educational curriculum, and ‘buddies’ explain how beneficial it can be to help each other get around within the world of the university. Professor Berteke Waaldijk nudges teachers to critically analyze their educational methods, to make sure more diverse opinions about a topic are discussed, and she urges people to use and develop decent language, without offending each other.

There’s a lot to read in the magazine, and hopefully, a lot to learn, too. From our columnist Zeinab Bouljhaf, for example, who is proud of her Dutch and Moroccan passports, but often ends up in a difficult position because of that. The vice chairwoman of the Executive Board and chairwoman of the Taskforce Diversity adds that the taskforce has funds available for initiatives planned in the interest of diversity, and announces a yearly award to honor those who actively strive for diversity.

The magazine will be distributed throughout all Utrecht University buildings, but if you prefer to read the stories online? Here’s the table of contents:

Foreword by the chairwoman of the Taskforce Diversity, Annetje Ottow
Awards and funding for a more diverse UU
I feel (kind of) at home at the UU
Eight portraits of UU employees and students about how they experience diversity at the university
To a more diverse university: how does the UU think they can get that done? With initiatives by the Sciences faculty, the cultural anthropologists who are making the UU a more diverse place, and how selection and matching can frustrate efforts to diversify
From buddy to colleague of friend
Many people at the UU are buddies to others. DUB interviews inclusion buddies, student buddies, a mentor and mentee duo, and participation colleagues
‘A university is as rich as its student population’
Professor Berteke Waaldijk explains why diversity in the classroom is important, and how teachers can make the most of this diversity
‘We try to practice what we preach’
The cultural mix of research groups in Gender Studies and Earth Science Tectonics
What’s in a word?
How do we create a language that offends no one?
The glasses
A column by Zeinab Bouljhaf, student of Islam and Arabic, about how she’s often addressed by people around her
Diversity dilemmas:
What to do to make everyone feel at home at the UU? A questionnaire.