On 20 August, Eurekaweek begins: the week in which new students are introduced to each other, the city, and the university. This year the focus is on diversity. Commissioner of Internal Affairs Vera Batelaan explains why.
Why is this emphasis on diversity important?
‘The Eurekaweek is often seen as something for the "average student" that is just starting student life. But we have a very diverse student population, and it’s important that this is reflected in the Eurekaweek, as well as that it’s accessible and attractive to everyone.
Therefore we organise a special day for international students to get acquainted with Dutch habits and traditions, get them registered, and handle some practical aspects. There’s also a day for master's students from other cities to get inspired by the opportunities in Rotterdam. We’re deliberately mixing the diversity-related activities with the rest of the programme so that people who initially aren’t that interested also get acquainted with it.’
Where can we see the diversity and inclusion?
‘In our guides and crew for example. We’ve recruited them through as many channels as possible to get the best mix of people. The training they received contains a video on the subject accompanied with a strong message from us. This is to make the guides aware of the diversity of the student population and the role they play in including everyone.
Besides that, the multicultural associations are much more involved in the programme.
'All participants of Eurekaweek receive information on the different associations and they have their own stand on the information market as well as extra space to offer activities. Also there’s a multicultural food festival. Finally, during Campus day on Tuesday, there is a programme in the Paviljoen theatre dedicated to diversity. Called Unwrapped, there’ll be two speakers with a multicultural background, and a social experiment that allows participants to see the similarities with people that seems very different from them.’
How about other types of diversity, like gender or sexual orientation?
‘Half of the Eurekaweek commissioners are female, so that is a good reflection of reality. Sexual orientation returns during the programme in the Paviljoen.’
Is the focus on diversity a one-year thing?
‘This time, we really sat with the multicultural associations and asked them what kind of issues they run into during the Eurekaweek. In the coming years we’ll keep improving our focus on diversity. We’re in touch with the Diversity office and are taking steps to integrate all aspects relating to diversity even more.’
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