‘Conversations about LGBTQI+ should be nurtured’

| Jennifer Cutinha

On the occasion of Purple Friday, UT President Vinod Subramaniam shared his observations and reflections on diversity and LGBTQI+ inclusivity at universities, at an online breakfast session organized by Workplace Pride this morning. ‘It is a pity that we have only one day dedicated to this, when it should be done every day.’

Photo by: eric brinkhorst

The event was organized to raise awareness about Purple Friday, a day celebrated annually in the Netherlands where everyone can show their solidarity with the LGBTQI+ community. The panel also included the chairs of Workplace Pride and speakers from Deloitte.

‘We’re still not there yet’

‘It is a pity that we have only one day dedicated to this, when it should be done every day’, Subramaniam started his talk. ‘The fact that we’re having such an event signals that we’re not there yet. Diversity has so many aspects like gender and color, and we encounter this every day at our university.’ According to the president of the UT’s executive board, we need to ask ourselves what we are doing to make everyone feel welcome. ‘Creating a sense of belonging is not only for targeted communities or activists to bring about. It should be in the blood, veins and arteries of every member of an organization.’

Learning from other efforts

Subramaniam mentioned that institutions like the UT should be learning from different efforts organized by other local and international organizations. ‘We should embrace different ideas and try to fit them in our own local context, whether that may be universities or workplaces. Conversations and dialogue about LGBTQI+ should not only start, but be nurtured, so that they can become commonplace. If it is not addressed continuously, you’re not going to have happy community. This goes for all other form of diversity as well.’

Data collection

According to Subramaniam, collecting data is key to seeing improvement. ‘Without data collection and monitoring, we’re never going to know if we’re getting any better. The Dutch government is polarized on this, which makes it even more difficult. We need to figure out how to do this in a safe and private manner, while at the same time keeping in mind the sensitivity of the matter.’

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