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Fostering diversity with a rainbow crossing and virtual reality

Next year in all likelihood, the campus will gain a rainbow-colored crossing in the vicinity of Atlas. A symposium will be held for and about women entrepreneurs, a video project will shed light on studying with a disability, and you'll be able to walk in someone else's shoes thanks to virtual reality. These four projects, fostering diversity at TU/e or creating a closer community, have been given the green light. The winners, each of whom will receive up to five thousand euros from the Diversity Fund, were announced yesterday at the TU/e Christmas Market.

With delight written on their faces, the winners took turns to receive their flowers and the TU/e Diversity Fund Award; their names were called out by one of the jury members standing on the stage at the Christmas Market. ID student Nathan Pottier was the first to come forward, on behalf of the LGBTQ+ community Compass, for their idea of making a rainbow version of the zebra crossing (the Gaybra) near Atlas. He was ‘happily shocked’ by the award, he said later. Compass is keen to do this to make diversity visible - quite literally - on the campus.

Duygu Keskin & Arjan Markus, both assistant professors at IE&IS, will be able to execute their idea, organizing a symposium, and perhaps a video project too, on the topic of 'entrepreneurship for women'. “Looking around us, we see that relatively few female students choose entrepreneurship, while TU/e certainly offers possibilities,” says Keskin. With a symposium on entrepreneurship for women students, they want to put the subject on the map and highlight the options offered by TU/e.

Another delighted person was Wendy Olsder, a PhD candidate at IE&IS, who submitted a proposal to use a video project to focus attention on what it is like to study when you have a disability. “I myself have rheumatism, which you can't see, and plenty of other students also have less visible disabilities, take diabetes for instance. Lecturers don't always appreciate that these students might miss an exam because, say, they have a hospital appointment. I want to use videos to give lecturers practical tips, and to show everyone what it is like to study when you have a particular disability.”

It didn't take the four jury members long to agree that Amy Pelders, a student at Industrial Design, should also be allowed to go ahead with her idea, TU/e Towards Together. This first-year student wants the TU/e community to stand - literally - in someone else's shoes and get a glimpse of someone else's life using virtual reality. “I want to place big shoes at various spots on the campus, together with VR goggles. When you put them on, you'll be able to watch the personal story of someone at TU/e, shown on video. I think it would be a fun way to get to know each other.”

Chief Diversity Officer Evangelia Demerouti, one of the jury members, praised the quality of the often creative entries - fourteen in total - and revealed that many of the proposals had technological components.

Corlien van Dam, TU/e policy officer for diversity, had earlier shared that the assessors, members of the diversity committee, were ‘positively surprised’ by the creativity of employees and students. “The applications were very varied, both in terms of topic and execution. Their focus varied from gender or cultures to studying with a disability. In making a selection we looked first at the individual projects and the criteria and then at the overall balance and the target groups.”

This competition was a pilot. The committee will soon know whether it will have a follow-up.

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