TOF believes diversity is a broad subject and it is important that attention is paid to every aspect. The Faculty needs to take issues such as ethnicity, gender, sexuality and different perspectives in the curricula into account. TOF wants diversity to be linked to decolonization, social justice and equality in both implementation and communication. Some years ago, the diversity report “Let’s do Diversity” was commissioned by the UvA. TOF thinks all recommendations of this report must be implemented before the end of the year at both the Faculty of Humanities and the entire UvA. To help individual students, the Faculty of Humanities needs to appoint a representative ombudsman (preferably not a white man) to act as a hotline for racism, sexism and other forms of exclusion.
It is also important that the Faculty Diversity Officer (DO), who is concerned with diversity in terms of policy, is given enough hours to perform the task. One of the members of the Faculty Board is currently the Faculty Diversity Officer at the Faculty of Humanities. TOF believes that the Diversity Officer should not be a member of the Faculty Board, and is also of the opinion that the officer does not have to be someone from the existing staff at the UvA. Instead, TOF prefers a DO that has sufficient knowledge in the field of decolonization and diversity within an organization and is someone from a marginalized group, for example a person of color or a trans person. TOF believes a DO with “lived experience” about exclusion and discrimination will be better at shaping diversity policy.To conduct good policy on diversity, it is crucial that input is requested from experienced experts, for example from groups such as University of Color.
It is important that the study programmes and programme committees ensure that students become aware of the perspective from which they practice science. Curriculum scans can also ensure that the curricula will be decolonized. Although the faculty should encourage and facilitate as many bottom-up initiatives as possible with regard to diversity, this should not be an excuse for not taking up initiative itself. Where programmes fail to make plans themselves, the faculty has to adopt a proactive attitude.
The faculty must take a critical look at the composition of application committees and the overall workforce. Also, the possibility to use quota or give priority during interview sessions should be examined. Where necessary, quotas can be set to allow the faculty to better reflect the city of Amsterdam. There is also much room for improvement in student recruitment: by recruiting from a wider range of secondary schools. After all, a more diverse environment also benefits education. It is also important that the Faculty looks critically at its own communication. This can be more inclusive by, for example, avoiding words such as “he” / “she”, letting different people speak in the newsletters and providing an extra option in addition to male / female on registration forms.
Diversity is a subject that, according to TOF, the UvA should tackle both at central and faculty level. Much can be gained at this point: the student population of the UvA does not currently reflect the diversity in the residents of Amsterdam. In addition to diversity in people, TOF also advocates more diverse curricula. In the area of diversity, the following measures should be taken at central level:
- Diversity officers must be given more hours for their duties. The UvA should give a earmarked budget for this to the faculties from a central level.
- The entire UvA must recruit broader students and teachers. For this purpose, agencies can be involved that specialize in broader socio-economic recruitment.
Studying with a functional limitation
The survey conducted by the Faculty Student Council in 2017 among students with a functional limitation revealed that this group is poorly heard. TOF therefore believes that all recommendations that followed from this survey should be implemented by the faculty board. There should be better information about studying with a disability, because students now often do not know who to contact with their problems. To prevent students from being shuttled from pillar to post, TOF advocates the appointment of a disability officer who has sufficient knowledge and power to assist students with a functional limitation. To guarantee the continuity of supervision, students must be able to work as much as possible with one fixed contact person. It must also be easier for students to request special facilities.
A lot can be gained in the construction of the new city center campus when it comes to students with both a physical and a mental limitation. TOF thinks that, for example, there should be enough lifts, little carpet and enough quiet rooms in the new and refurbished buildings.
To refine the supervision of students with a functional disability, it is essential to listen carefully to students who are experienced experts in this field. TOF therefore believes that the disability platform should be structurally involved in the plans of the FGw. TOF is also of opinion that attention should be paid to dealing with students with a physical or mental disability in the training programmes of teachers.
It is important that the faculty actively works towards providing not only people with physical limitations, but also people with mental limitations the right kind of help and facilities. Due to the fact that mental impairments are often less visible, talking about them can be a taboo. TOF aims towards having a proactive position in breaking the taboo surrounding mental health. Students should not be responsible for solving problems about mental health on their own: the faculty should help them to do this. To lower the performance pressure, the faculty should focus less on excellence and instead put more emphasis on motivation rather than grades.
It is of vital importance that students know where they can go with their problems about mental health. Problems of students should be taken more seriously: therefore there should be enough personnel for students to talk to. TOF wants the faculty of humanities to be an environment where mental health is takes seriously and where students feel supported. To make this happen, we should not just implement the UN treaty, but we should aim to go beyond that.
It is important for all students that they are properly supervised at the UvA. TOF believes that the Faculty should hire more study advisors that should be more accessible to students. Currently, there waiting lists are often too long and students need to discuss their study progress as soon as possible. Student psychologists must also be easier to reach and have fewer waiting lists. TOF is pleased to see that consultation hours have been arranged at the student psychologists on the initiative of the student council. If thresholds to visit study advisors, student psychologists and tutors can be lowered, that is a good thing.