While the UT’s first Diversity and Inclusion plan from May 2021 focused on creating awareness around key topics related to diversity and inclusion, its successor lists specific steps that will be taken in order to create ‘a fully inclusive environment’.
‘We consciously decided to set social safety as a clear fundament,’ explains Sterre Mkatini from the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) Office, which prepared the document. ‘It is only in a socially safe environment that we can truly expand our DE&I structures to build a welcoming UT. I’m glad the DE&I team is working closely with the Integral Safety Manager to make sure we are constructively working towards this goal. A socially safe university environment is created with all of us together and needs to be our shared responsibility.’
As one of the steps towards this goal, the UT will launch a campaign on social safety that includes the importance of sexual consent. In addition to this campaign, which should be launched in 2022, the UT is working on improving the findability and accessibility of (website) content related to these matters.
Access and equity
Better access to campus facilities is another focus area defined in the new plan. ‘The UT does recognise when it comes to access and equity for people with physical disabilities and/or chronic illnesses we have some catching up to do,’ states the document. Campus buildings are currently being assessed for their level of accessibility and will be adjusted accordingly. The university also plans to increase recognition of the broad range of neurotypes within UT’s community.
The DE&I plan includes several specific actions related to the topic of gender and gender equality. These are, for example, increasing the amount of all gender toilets on campus, preparing guidelines on how to use pronouns and exploring the possibilities to draw up a trans leave policy.
Within the same theme, the UT will run a second round of Hypatia Chair campaign starting in autumn 2022. ‘Hypatia’ was first introduced in 2018 to increase the number of female professors. The renewed plan will include vacancies for ‘female only’ candidates, but – unlike its first round – the positions will also be open to internal candidates and designed to attract associate and assistant professors.
During the meeting with the Executive Board today, the University Council expressed its concerns regarding the Hypatia campaign. ‘Hypatia focuses on female recruitment, excluding male candidates. Shouldn’t we have a broader focus on quality?’ asked Council member Pieter Boerman.
‘If we focus on women, we are not moving away from quality,’ responded UT president Vinod Subramaniam. ‘We understand the concerns, but we will not link gender to quality. That is nonsense. If you have a minority situation, you try to equalize it. We carefully look at gender balance. If there are only women, we will look at getting more men.’
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Action Plan 2022-2024
The DE&I plan lists specific actions to be taken within the next two years. On top of actions mentioned above, some other examples are:
- Transforming Ambassadors’ Network into a broader DE&I advisory board
- Incorporating the PhD and student voice in the DE&I Team
- Organising annual DE&I Weeks (or one day) in October
- Establishing an antiracism statement
- Updating portfolio of workshops and trainings providing information and tools to overcome gender gaps
- Exploring the possibilities to enhance parental leave for e.g. rainbow families
- Organizing inclusive language and representation workshops