They were motivated to ask this question by articles published by the UKrant about the disparaging and racist remarks that international students are sometimes subjected to. ‘We were fairly shocked’, says Henk-Jan Wondergem, faction chair for Lijst Calimero. A special confidential advisor can help the university be a better host to these students.
But Rector Magnificus Elmer Sterken points to the current RUG confidential advisor. ‘I think we should make international students more aware of that one. It really is a missing link.’
Sterken also wants to start a conversation about Dutch directness. ‘We should all be talking about this important subject. Because when people don’t feel welcome in a system, their chance of success is smaller.’
RUG president Sibrand Poppema agrees. ‘A lot of people weren’t aware of the situation. Certain manners of treating people that are completely normal to us might not be that obvious to internationals. And you can’t expect international students to just adapt.’
Poppema also feels the confidential advisor could play an important role. ‘I know that international students come to her every once in a while, but not often enough. I think maybe they feel that’s taking it a step too far?’
According to Poppema, the remarks are often not meant to do any harm. ‘I’m assuming that the majority of people at this university don’t want to do any harm and also don’t mean it.’