TiU anti-racism working group must provide culture change

TiU anti-racism working group must provide culture change

The University Council advised in favor of a proposal for a working group against racism. According to Vice-Rector Jantine Schuit, it is time for the university not only to speak out against racism but also to show that it is actively fighting it.

Image: Jules van Iperen

How and where do discrimination, racism, and exclusion play a role at Tilburg University? And how can it be concretely combated? A small and responsive working group should map this problem and come up with concrete actions. That is the core of the proposal to combat racism for which the University Council advised in favor.

The initiative comes from the Party Onafhankelijken (Independents) and is supported by Party TiU International and the student parties. “Diversity and inclusiveness are not buzzwords but must be made concrete and enforced in practice,” the proposal states. “Critical self-reflection is necessary, as is a genuine willingness to do things radically differently.”

With the people, not for the people

The anti-racism working group should map the campus climate from the perspective of underrepresented people and people of color. “I think that’s a really important point,” says Mirjam Siesling, chair of employee Party Onafhankelijken. “It shouldn’t be a working group of white people talking about people of color. It has to happen with the people who themselves experience discrimination, racism, or exclusion.’

Bert Willems, leading candidate of employee Party TiU International, adds that the working group must cover the entire campus. “Students, lecturing staff, support staff, researchers: everyone needs to be heard.”

Change

The working group must first identify discrimination by listening to individuals within all bodies within the university. Then, the working group will report recommendations directly to the Executive Board that will make Tilburg University safer, more respectful, and more equitable.

It does not only look at the short term. Recommending initiatives that contribute to a systemic change against possible racism at TiU is also part of the core task of the working group. In addition, the group looks at what other universities are doing against discrimination, racism, and exclusion.

Long-term process

The Executive Board welcomed the initiative during the University Council meeting. “Culture change is a time-consuming process,” says Jantine Schuit, “but that should not deter us. As a university, we need to be an example and take active action against racism.” First, the Executive Board will engage in discussions with a diverse group of representatives from all walks of life at the university. At a later stage, the possible installation of the working group will be considered. The parties in the University Council will be kept informed about the progress.

Translated by Language Center, Riet Bettonviel

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