The dialogue sessions brought together many students with different views on the University’s identity, core values, mission, and vision. That makes sense, of course: a university is home to many different people, and not the least because there is a wide range of study programmes. Medical students have a different perspective from law students, and public administration students look at things differently than students in social sciences. Members of religious associations have a different view on identity than members of non-religious associations.
I personally took part in the dialogue sessions because I think it’s important to bring all these different people together. I was born in Bali and spent part of my childhood there. That makes me always look for the other person’s story and try to bridge any differences. Looking at today’s society, I see a growing number of people who think that their vision is the only right one. I’m convinced that people should engage in dialogue with each other, and at least try to understand why the other person has a different view.
That is also the beauty of Radboud University: although we have people from many different cultures and backgrounds, there is still a strong sense of community. People come together here and learn that there are also opinions that differ from what they themselves stand for. Students learn to look at society from a critical perspective, while still respecting others.
Coming together despite differences may sound contradictory, but difference and togetherness can actually go together very well. You see it reflected in some of the University’s objectives, with people from different disciplines coming together to solve a social problem. For example, Radboud University was one of the first universities to take a clear position on the climate issue, with its 'You have a part to play' campaign. It takes guts to make such a statement, because you know it will attract a lot of resistance. But it does mean that all study programmes are now working on solutions to a major social problem. I think it’s good that the University has put this into practice so quickly. This progressive approach is one of the things I love about Radboud University anyway. The distinctly emancipatory character has always been part of our identity, and I think it should remain so. Not everyone has the opportunity to study. So it’s a privilege to belong to the group that can start working towards solutions to societal problems.
- Rizka Simons