On the basis of recommendations by the Diversity Committee, the University of Amsterdam (UvA) will in the short term appoint a diversity officer who will develop policy in conjunction with colleagues from the various faculties. This was announced by Executive Board President Geert ten Dam at the presentation of the Diversity Committee’s final report on 12 October.
‘The diversity officer will report directly to the Executive Board, will be a pivot and form a network with the diversity officers at the faculties’, says Ten Dam. One of the diversity officer’s first tasks will be to formulate a plan of action.
The committee finds that at the UvA diversity and an inclusive culture can’t always be taken for granted everywhere. Ten Dam: ‘Everyone should feel at home at our university, irrespective of their gender, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, disability, political beliefs and social, cultural or religious background. More diversity provides us with more perspectives on the world and on social issues. Diversity straddles different areas – from accessibility and intake to staff policy and confidential advisers. Just think of the composition of appointment advisory committees for example, and of subtle social mechanisms that take the form of stereotyping. The number of female professors, for instance, is still too low. The UvA can and must do more about this – it won’t change by itself.’
The Executive Board believes it is vital that short-term improvement measures are taken for people with a disability. ‘In the area of information, information provision, supervision during the study programme and to effectively remove existing barriers’, Ten Dam adds. For this purpose, the UvA will form a committee in which individuals with a disability will have an active voice.
In the long term, the UvA will make diversity a more prominent part of policy. ‘We will integrate it in different themes in the Strategic Plan, such as talent policy, personnel and organisation, student experience and internationalisation.’
During the presentation, Ten Dam spoke about how fierce and polarising the debate on diversity can sometimes be. ‘This was evident from the reactions to the preliminary conclusions of the report. This isn’t a good thing for such a subject, in which unity instead of division is essential. I hope we can find the right tone in the discussions on this.’
Ten Dam thanked the committee for holding up a mirror, for all its hard work and for the final report. ‘I would like to thank everyone in attendance here today, as well as those who made a contribution over the past few months.’