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UU pulls out of Cultural Diversity Barometer

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Utrecht University will no longer take part in the Cultural Diversity Barometer in its current format, the Executive Board announced on Monday in a letter to the University Council. The U-turn follows harsh criticism by employees and council members.

Read in Dutch

The Executive Board mentions two reasons to pull out of the project, which aims to gain more insight into how diverse university employees are in the Netherlands (the message is available on the Intranet). Participating universities are supposed to share personal data about their employees with Statistics Netherlands, the government's statistics office (CBS in the Dutch acronym).

The first reason is the lack of support for the project, especially after the University Council advised against it. The Executive Board considers the council's support indispensable. CBS' recent announcement that it will stop classifying people according to the categories "Western" and "non-Western" is the second reason leading the Executive Board to depart from the project. "If the CBS itself says that these terms are loaded and they are themselves involved with questionable things, then we must leave", stated UU's rector Henk Kummeling in a meeting with the University Council on Monday.

New setup
The Board now wants to investigate, together with the University Council, which tools and categories should be used to measure the diversity of the UU workforce. The rector also informed the council that UU has been holding talks with the other participating universities (the University of Amsterdam, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Leiden University and the Eramus University Rotterdam) and their representative bodies to come up with a proposal on how to resume the project with a new setup.

It should be noted, however, that the Executive Board rejects many of the criticisms made by the University Council, such as those concerning "privacy issues", the choice to ask employees to opt out instead of opting in, and the risk that the data would be misused by third parties. According to the Board, these issues have either been resolved or can be resolved.

Last but not least, the Board points out that UU's participation in the Cultural Diversity Barometer was mentioned in the Strategy and Action Plan of the Equality, Diversity & Inclusion programme, a document that has been discussed with the University Council last September. According to the rector, joining the Barometer reflects a scientific attitude towards diversity and inclusion, with the aim to explore the issues at hand and come up with new policies. 

Follow-up letter
The University Council announced Monday that it is satisfied with the Board's decision to leave the project and that it's ready to join its brainstorm towards a new Barometer to measure, monitor and inspire policy on diversity.

All of UU's employees will soon receive a follow-up letter from the university regarding the project. In total, 430 staff members opted out of the Barometer, more than in all other participating universities.

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