“I’ve heard it said that the location of a diversity office in an organisation is indicative of how seriously an organisation takes this topic. We started out in the cellar and now we’re here. That’s why I’m pleased that we can be found at the heart of the campus”, said Hanneke Takkenberg, the university’s chief diversity officer.

Takkenberg reminded those present that what once started as a small circle of people who wanted to ‘resolve problems faced by minorities’ has now grown into an important part of the entire university when it comes to diversity and inclusion. “You really can’t claim that women are a minority”, added Takkenberg in passing.

‘Surely a woman can’t give a lecture in the Aula'

She hopes that the Diversity Office will be a hub for queries, ideas, and complaints as well as a resource to provide assistance in matters related to diversity and inclusion at EUR. Takkenberg thanked outgoing Rector Huib Pols, who held the scissors to officially open the office, for his efforts in getting this issue on the agenda.

Pols, after cutting the ceremonial ribbon, recalled that when he took office there was much discussion about diversity and equal opportunities for women in academia, but very little action was taken. “I’ve always tried to not make it a problem solely to be resolved at the central level. I felt it was also an issue that had to be dealt with by the faculties.”

At one point when he heard a professor say that you ‘surely wouldn’t ask a woman to give a lecture in the Aula’, Pols knew there was a great deal of work to be done. “At least awareness has increased and now we also need everybody’s commitment.”