Council against discrimination

The factions of the University Council have issued a statement against homophobia and discrimination, encouraging students and staff to come forward to report negative experiences.
By Traci White

‘In light of recent events, the University Council confirms its strong stance against all forms of harassment, aggression, violence and discrimination’, the joint statement on behalf of the Council’s student and staff factions reads.

‘The direct motivation to make this statement at this time was the fact that there is quite a lot of attention being paid to these issues recently by the general public’, according to a representative of the Council.

Last week, a rainbow flag was flown in front of the Academy Building in honour of the 49 victims of the biggest mass shooting in American history, which took place in a gay bar in Orlando, Florida. ‘The statement was certainly in response to Orlando, at least in part, but we wanted to extend it further than just that.’

LGBT

Other ‘recent events’ include at least one local incident of anti-LGBT violence. The city of Groningen was rudely awakened to the reality of anti-LGBT violence at home when a lesbian couple was beaten up outside of De Kast, one of the few LGBT bars in town, in April.

‘The University Council strongly supports recently stepped up efforts by the Municipality to encourage the acceptance and emancipation of all Stadjers and students, whether lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex or otherwise’, the statement continues. That includes plans to set up additional cameras in popular nightlife areas in the city and making it easier for victims of crime to file a police report.

‘The Council also calls upon the Board of the University and its Chief Diversity Officers, the LGBT student association Ganymedes, and other institutions and individuals to safeguard the inclusion of all members of the academic and wider community. There can be no tolerance of intolerance at the university, on or off campus.’

Come forward

The statement was not only focused on the LGBT community, however. At the university level, the Council’s statement calls for students and staff to come forward to the university confidential advisor to report ‘any undesirable behaviour and/or unequal treatment’, including irregularities within the organisation, problems with work relations and wrongful or unreasonable treatment.

‘A report from the university’s confidential advisor also showed that acceptance remains something of a problem within the university’, according to a representative speaking on behalf of the Council. It was recently made known that the number of sexual harassment cases reported at the university has increased in the past year: there were 3 complaints filed in 2014, and 13 filed in 2015.

Encouraging the university population to report ‘irregularities’ comes in the wake of an ongoing investigation into a decades-long fraud in the maintenance department. But the Council representative emphasises that the joint statement is not in response to the fraud case. ‘The Board of Directors will be creating an integrity programme which should be discussed by the University Council in the autumn. This is about drawing attention to the situations when it would be best to go to the confidential advisor.’

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