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Column: Towards social safety and inclusion by becoming allies

Radboud University has a Code of Conduct and a DEI Plan in place, but that is not enough to achieve a safe and inclusive campus. Social safety is work in progress, every day. Find out what you can do to play your part.

As part of their job, our colleagues Anoeska Soedamah, Nancy Viellevoye, Rona Jualla-van Oudenhoven and Heleen Kloosterhuis engage in dialogue around these issues on a daily basis. They talk to students, employees, each other, and the organisation. In this column, they share their experiences.

Rona Jualla-van Oudenhoven

The perspective of Rona Jualla-van Oudenhoven (Diversity Officer)

Our role in creating a more inclusive campus society can be as simple and complex as being good allies. Allyship is working in solidarity and partnership with marginalized groups. It is about genuinely seeking change because it matters and not because it may be the charitable or fashionable thing to do. As your Diversity Officer I propose these six [6] tips on how to be an Ally: 1. Listen and be aware of your own biases; 2. Recognize your privilege and use it to make a difference; 3. Be actionable: Take a stand against unjust treatment; 4. Advocate for underrepresented groups; 5. Educate yourself about different histories and cultures; and 6. Give credit to the labor of others before you.

Nancy Viellevoije-Geers

The perspective of Nancy Viellevoye (Ombudsperson)

In the meantime, we have set up a House voor Sociale Veiligheid (Social Safety) within the university, of which I, as your Ombuds officer staff, have been a part for a year now. The house is standing but now it is only beginning. Social safety is a work in progress, every day. We will have to do it together and not only with words but also with deeds. Where do we start? If we now resolve to be a good ally for colleagues who are more vulnerable than ourselves, then it will be a better year. Name in the moment, that what happens and is said is not okay is, is not acceptable. You then speak out from your more privileged position and offer your colleague recognition and support. This is so powerful! In this way, the code of conduct becomes a living pamphlet and not an ex-post assessment framework.

Heleen Kloosterhuis

The perspective of Heleen Kloosterhuis (Confidential Advisor)

As a confidential advisor I recognize that it is not always easy to stand up in an existing structure in which hierarchical relationships are anchored and say that you do not agree with something. Or to stand up for a colleague, who is in trouble. If it were easy to get into a "Speak Up" culture with each other, the world would look different and the universities certainly would. But we are in the academic world together in a system in which there is competition, publications and large scholarships are important. Excelling is important. Behavior that works towards that is rewarded. That makes it complicated. It is not a system that corrects itself and we have to go there. Employees and managers need support with this, because it is not only about individual behavioral changes, but about a total cultural change!

Anoeshka Soedamah

The perspective of Anoeshka Soedamah (Campus Psychologist)

Alliance. Mutual relationships between people or groups with a common goal. NATO is an alliance and this group of countries helps each other. In good times, but also in times of war. How can you assist each other in the workplace, for better or for worse? And what does that mean in concrete terms for you and me, as Radboud colleagues? How can I be an Ally in my role as Campus Psychologist and one of the members of the House for Social Security:

  • Within the framework of confidentiality, I would like to invite you to speak out about what you are up against and what you need to feel safe;
  • Do you want to speak out to, for example, a manager or supervisor, but do you find that difficult or exciting? We can go through it step by step and find out where the biggest challenge is for you;

This overview is not absolute, but it is a first step in the right direction. We will have to work together somewhere for a healthier and safer climate and this is my hand to you. Will we become allies? Seems nice to me!

Written by
H.H. Kloosterhuis (Heleen)A. Soedamah (Anoeshka)
This column is part of a series of columns on social safety, equity and inclusion. Regularly, a new column will appear in the weekly news.