Breaking taboos during Diversity Week

The first TU/e Diversity Week will take place from October 5 until 9. Mostly online, due to corona. Every day around lunch there is a live stream of a themed interview in which viewers can ask questions. In addition, a special picnic bench in rainbow design will be unveiled and there is a free training that can help you actively take a stand in #metoo situations.

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photo Bridget Alcione Spoor

The timeframe for this theme week is no coincidence: October 11 is the National Coming Out Day. A day to help people who are still in the closet to get out. But Diversity Week is about more than sexual orientation. There is also attention for racism, mental health and internationalization.

Student Diversity Officer Lara Hofstra: “We wanted to involve all associations, such as Compass, TINTLighthouse and Cosmos, in the Diversity Week (DW) with events and food, et cetera. but unfortunately this is not possible due to corona. So most of the activities are online and a yellow picnic bench is painted in a rainbow pattern. In addition, the campus will have rainbow flags with the Diversity Week logo underneath. The intention is for the DW to happen every year. We are now trying to brainstorm with the associations about what they can do in this theme so that we can hopefully have an agenda full of live events next year.”

Every day around lunchtime there is an online activity: a daily live interview with people who relate to the mentioned themes and some training sessions in the context of #metoo, on which more later on. “For example, I’ll interview someone who is nonbinary (does not feel like a man or a woman, ed.), Something that is still relatively unknown to many people. How does that person prefer to be addressed? And how does it affect your sexual orientation if you don't feel like a man or a woman? Questions that we all have but often are afraid to ask. I hope this will lower the threshold to talk about these subjects.”

Learning Dutch

Two of the interviewees are Nishad Guha and Tianyi Chen. Guha is from India and a bachelor’s student of Computer Science and Engineering. Chen is from China and is a master's student of Industrial Design. Both already speak quite some Dutch and want to tell their fellow students why this is so important. “Many international students don't feel motivated to learn Dutch as you can get by without it. But it is actually a way to better connect with the people and the culture. I hope to convey that”, says Guha.

Chen agrees: “Of course it helps with simple things like grocery shopping or an appointment at the municipality. But especially in making friends and being approachable for Dutch students. I notice they are coming to me easier now. That's nice. And in the future it might also help me to find a job. It for sure won't be a disadvantage that I speak the language. I often hear that foreigners find Dutch so difficult to learn and ask a lot of questions about when and why you use which article for example. Let that go and just accept that it is the way it is. Then it gets easier."

In 2017, the hashtag #metoo went viral and more attention was paid to bullying, (sexual) harassment, and other inappropriate behavior at work. The Diversity Week also focuses on this with the Active Bystander Training, organized by WISE. This training (which you can follow online) should help people to stand up against #metoo happenings. “We sometimes find that difficult,” Hofstra says. "But it’s essential to do something about the problem."

Rainbow crossing

There was also a rainbow crossing planned on our campus, it being one of the winning ideas from last year’s Diversity Contest. The place near Atlas where the crossing was planned, turned out to be unsuitable because of the type of stones that lie there. “That plan has been shelved for a while and a different form of art is now thought of,” Hofstra says. In the meantime, one of the yellow picnic benches is being painted in rainbow colors to focus on diversity and sexual orientation. This will be unveiled on October 9 at 12:30 p.m. in front of Atlas. "The Diversity Week then also becomes a great annual moment to celebrate the winners of the Diversity Contest."

Program

Monday, October 5

  • 12:30 – 1:30 p.m: Live stream about the TU/e’s Diversity and Inclusion Policy

Tuesday, October 6

Wednesday, October 7

  • 12:30 – 1:30 p.m: Live stream with Lighthouse about mental well-being
  • 2:00 p.m: Live event outside Hubble: Standing in someone else's shoes by Amy Pelders
  • 6:30 p.m: Live event at the tent at the Koeveld: international speed dating with TINT & Cosmos

Thursday, October 8

Friday, October 9

  • 12:30 – 1:30 p.m: Live stream with Compass about LGBTQ+ and the kick-off for the Coming Out Day on October 11
  • 12:30 p.m: Live event at the pond in front of Atlas: the unveiling of the rainbow picnic bench

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