We (deel 2) - Column Agnes Muskens
We (deel 2) - Column Agnes Muskens

You have a part to play! - Column Agnes Muskens

The start of the new year also means that we once again get to welcome a large group of new students at Radboud University. Now that all COVID-19 measures have been lifted (for good this time, I hope!), we see our students return to the campus in large numbers. The lecture halls are full, some bicycle racks were even overfull (a practical glitch that has already been solved), and the Refter is nicely packed once again. 

On our campus, we strongly promote togetherness: living together and learning together, from and with each other, in the lecture halls and beyond. This gives us a warm feeling of positive energy, of being able to make an active contribution, and of course of being connected to one another. Ultimately, this is what really matters, especially in these difficult and heavy times for a substantial number of us. 

COVID-19 is not the only factor to affect our students’ mental well-being. Recent world events, such as the war in Ukraine, the accompanying energy crisis and the restriction of civil freedoms in Iran, are all examples that touch us as individuals, but also as Radboud University students and employees. 
To name one example, Minister Yesilgöz of Justice recently cut off a piece of her hair on a live Op1 broadcast, to show support for the Iranian women and activists demonstrating against the harsh moral police in their country. “This fight is about the right to feel sunshine on your skin, the right to decide for yourself who you want to be,” said the Minister. An impressive statement.
Closer to home, I am touched to see students and employees show commitment and involvement with each other, with our university, and with our society. Only last week, I heard a story about a student saying that the first weeks had been tough, to which their interlocutor replied: “Good thing the weekend is here!”. The student answered that this made no difference; their alarm clock also went off on Saturday mornings, to make sure they were not late to volunteer at the local soup kitchen. 

We all have our own way of giving meaning and value to the slogan “You have a part to play!”. At heart, it is about being connected to one another, and taking the time to reflect on how we can support each other’s well-being. This is not only sorely needed in our sometimes hardening society, it also helps us to give meaning to our own ‘everyday happiness’. It makes life more beautiful. 
You are an important building block in our campus and in our world. And luckily, examples abound all around us, to inspire us to make our own contribution to a better world: You have a part to play! 

Agnes Muskens is vice president of Radboud University's Executive Board. She and the other members of the board - president Daniël Wigboldus and rector magnificus Han van Krieken - regularly write columns in which they reflect their work at Radboud University.

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