“The Rainbow path is located next to the Pavilion on the Institutenlaan,” says Marit de Ridder. In March 2021, as an RSM student, she applied for the project through the Hummingbird Fund. “I was surprised that it wasn't on campus yet. It also took a while, but I'm glad the path is really there now."
Construction started on Wednesday July 20th and was completed at the beginning of August. It took a while for the rainbow path to get there. Marit has been committed to this project for a long time. “It was a road with ups and downs, but it was all worth it. It is important that the path is there. I can walk hand in hand down the street in the city with my boyfriend. A friend who likes boys doesn't dare to. He was sometimes called names on the street and even threatened. Just because he shows affection for someone he really likes. I find it bizarre that this is still happening in 2022.”
The Hummingbird Fund is a dedicated fund under the RSM Fund, aimed at supporting experiential education with a local impact. As an RSM student, you can apply if you have a great idea to bring about positive change in your environment. You can respond via the RSM website.
Let everyone be themselves
Marit hopes that the colored path on campus is a start towards change. “I've also heard stories that people don't feel safe on campus. Of course, you can't solve all that with a rainbow path. More actions are needed and that takes time, but it's a good way to start the conversation. The goal is that eventually everyone can be themselves. I really like that I can use my voice for this. I also realize very well that I do not know their suffering. That is why I discussed this project with various parties.”
During the preparation, Marit spoke with Erasmus Pride, the Real Estate & Facilities and Diversity & Inclusion departments of the university, and COC Netherlands. “Everyone was immediately enthusiastic. Erasmus Pride has many members who benefit from the path. COC Nederland, the national organization in the field of LGBTIQ+ rights, was also immediately pleased. Diversity & Inclusion ultimately pays for a large part of the project. It's nice to have and feel their support. It was also good to hear their motivations for why it should be there.”
According to Marit, awareness is the main reason for building a rainbow path. “In this way we show that everyone is welcome at the university. It doesn't matter who you are or what your sexual preference is. You're just welcome. We can know this message and propagate it in beautiful policy plans, but the path with all colors is something very tangible. You see it every day on campus.”
Of course we are not there as a university with only a rainbow path. “The most important thing is that it doesn't become symbolic politics. Diversity and inclusion goes beyond this project,” says Marit. According to her, it is also an idea to focus parts of education on this. “I went to college when I was eighteen. I moved from a small village to the big city. That was a giant step. Only here I could really find out who I really was. I felt much freer. What do I really like, rather than what others liked. I think it is important that the university also pays attention to this. It is important that this is discussed and preferably supervised a bit from the university. Including Diversity & Inclusion in the curriculum seems like a very good idea to me.”