Anyone who regularly goes to Zernike has probably noticed it: the rainbow crossing between the Duisenberg building and the Kapteynborg. The multi-coloured zebra crossing was initiated by faculty association EBF and will be officially opened on Tuesday.
ctober is diversity month at the Faculty of Economics and Business (FEB). The colourful zebra crossing is one of the initiatives to encourage people to talk about diversity. ‘The visibility of the crossing makes the subject more tangible’, says Niels Tabingh Suermondt, EBF’s vice chair.
A survey FEB independently disseminated among its employees last year showed that they need to talk about subjects like diversity, inclusivity, and social safety. While the general results put forward a positive image of the faculty, it was clear that improvements were in order.
Some of the staff members said they felt unsafe, to varying degrees. They cited examples of verbal aggression, discrimination, and bullying, often expressed in seemingly small ways.
In order to change this, people should have the courage to talk about each other’s behaviour. However, the report said this wasn’t always easy due to the implicit hierarchy within the faculty.
Students aren’t automatically open to the concept of diversity, either. ‘Business students aren’t as interested in it as students from other faculties’, says Tabingh Suermondt.
What would you do
In addition to the rainbow crossing, the faculty will also put up signs with ‘diversity dilemmas’ all over campus, says Tabingh Suermondt. They’ll describe situations and ask the reader: ‘What would you do?’ How would you respond, for example, when a same-sex couple passes you by and other students start making nasty remarks behind their backs?
‘Speaking up when you see something like that can be scary’, says Tabingh Suermondt. ‘That’s why we’re organising active bystander courses. These can teach students how to speak up when they witness inappropriate behaviour.’