University Council Blog Ana Uribe Sandoval

This day should remind us that we are still in the fight, in the constant struggle to get to equity and justice for all.

Ana Uribe Sandoval

#ChoosetoChallenge: a call to sorority and rage  

Today we woke up to a sunny International Women’s Day – but it is not as bright for all of us. Many of the women in EUR community are far away from the communicated ideal of an Erasmian Community where we have all the same opportunities and same chances. Many of our students and colleagues are struggling with heavy loads of care work besides their usual work. Many of our younger colleagues are in teaching-only positions without a clear path to a career while trying to juggle family life and their own well-being. Many of the women in our community are still in the search for a path to a healthier and more balanced life that is at the same time fulfilling and up to the standards that they want for themselves. 

This is then not a day to congratulate each other. The flowers we might give or receive should also be offerings to our own compromise for moving forward, together. This day should remind us that we are still in the fight, in the constant struggle to get to equity and justice for all. I #choosetochallenge from my seat at the University Council the idea that our University provides already an environment in which female and male students and staff can develop in the same circumstances. We can talk so far about a certain equality and good efforts for it, but we would like to have a University that in its volition to become a champion of societal impact is able to recognize that we have to take more decisive steps to guarantee equity and justice for the women in our community. 

I #choosetochallenge the comforting belief that as a University Council we are a good representative body of the university community. Have you looked at our ranks? The UC is currently conformed by 24 members, 12 students, 12 staff members. With only two female student members and five female staff members, we might indeed replicate the uncomfortable truth that until a few months ago we were one of the universities in the Netherlands with the least female professors. But if you go to our classrooms, if you go into the offices that keep the campus and our educational system going, you will quickly realize that more female colleagues and students are pushing the envelope, every day. We should guarantee that this is also real in the Councils, that the voices of women everywhere at EUR are heard: that our students and colleagues feel the need, the will and the safety to represent their interest at these bodies, to make sure that diverse perspectives are taken in every discussion at our University. 

This is a call to all my female colleagues and students at the Erasmus Community – let’s be there for one another. Let’s walk along every line. If it is difficult or slow to change the structures of power, let’s not give in and play by the known rules of the power game. It is in our classrooms and offices that we can together imagine a new way to be more inclusive, more open, more welcoming. Let’s be good companions and help each other to move forward, let’s be angry together, and active together.  

I talk about anger because I want to finally #choosetochallenge the misconception that rage has no role in our institution. We are told that in the University reason should triumph emotion, that composed and civilized dialogue will get us further. I dissent. I believe that this is as good a moment as any for us to try on rage. We need to be able to feel indignation and fury in our bones to change the institution. University should not be the place where passion comes to die, but where it begins to thrive. And I’m sure that by using our rage and supporting each other, we can make this 8M count here and beyond the borders of the EUR. Together we don’t only stand, we thrive.  


Ana Uribe Sandoval 

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