Universiteit Leiden

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A diverse team

A group of 18 Leiden students and alumni are advising the University on diversity and inclusiveness. Portraits of 11 members of the Diversity Policy Feedback Group.

What it's about

As a source of exchange, innovation and creativity, cultural diversity is as necessary for humankind as biodiversity is for nature, according to the UNESCO Declaration on Cultural Diversity. Nice sentiment, but we’re not there yet. Blanket acceptance of other people is not yet a reality, and by no means everyone feels comfortable with their own cultural background or gender in all environments. The aim of the Feedback Group is to help the University become an inclusive community where everyone can develop their talents to the utmost, irrespective of gender, ethnicity, cultural background, sexual orientation or functional disability.

The deviant talks back

Every member of this group is regularly regarded as 'different', deviant, not the norm. As members of the Diversity Policy Feedback Group they are aiming for an academic climate where decisions are not taken by other people on their behalf, but where the individual voices of all those who are 'deviant' are democratically heard and represented. This is the only way for the University to be truly inclusive as well as diverse. They use the word 'deviant' because it gives a very explicit image of 'being different', while at the same time being ironic. Because, just how different are they?

The team

  • 5 students and 6 alumni
  • 6 morning people and 5 evening people
  • 4  graduated with distinction
  • 4 cat lovers, the rest are 'mad about guinea pigs'
  • 7 work or study in Leiden, 3 in Rotterdam, 1 in The Hague
  • 6 are in a relationships, 4 are happy singles, 1 it’s complicated  - ‘for other people, not for me’
  • 1 lover of Pizza Hawaii – ‘Pineapple's OK’
  • 3 celebrate 3 October (1 of whom is only there for the reveille at 7 o'clock), the rest escape the city that day
  • 4 were advised at junior school that university would be beyond them (2 of them have now graduated with distinction)

What would they do with a million? 11 daydreams:

  • buy a jungle
  • invest in the University
  • only 1 million?
  • make it earn more (and buy a nice car)
  • start my own club
  • pay off my study debts and my mother's mortgage
  • no idea
  • I want to see the colour of the money first before deciding how to spend it
  • buy an unhabited island and invite everyone to come and chill out
  • keep doing what I am doing
  • save some, buy a house by the sea, buy a modified car for me because that would give me more freedom, and give the rest away

Source of inspiration: UNESCO Declaration on Cultural Diversity

The Feedback Group quotes article 1 of the UNESCO Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity as a source of inspiration and motivation: 

Culture takes diverse forms across time and space. This
diversity is embodied in the uniqueness and plurality of
the identities of the groups and societies making up
humankind. As a source of exchange, innovation and creativity,
cultural diversity is as necessary for humankind as
biodiversity is for nature. In this sense, it is the common
heritage of humanity and should be recognized and affirmed
for the benefit of present and future generations.

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