This Erasmus TV broadcast focused on the worldwide Black Lives Matter protests. On Wednesday afternoon, the citizens of Rotterdam also took to the streets – to show their solidarity with the protesters in the US and to call attention to structural racism in the Netherlands. The protest was attended by thousands of people.
Including Merel Dap of the student organisation Erasmus School of Colour, who had also been invited to the Erasmus TV studio. “I was amazed how many people had turned up. And the speeches sincerely touched me. It was very inspiring to see so many people come together to show solidarity and listen to other people’s experiences. I was moved to hear another black girl talk about her experiences with ethnic profiling.”
Too few professors of colour
During the programme, Bier and Dap agreed that EUR needs to do more to promote inclusion and diversity within the university. Apart from individual responses, an institutional problem also calls for an institutional reaction, argues Bier. “At the individual level, every white person should read some accounts by people of colour. You can find various anti-racism reading lists online, with texts suited for a broader audience, and you can check out lectures on YouTube.”
At the institutional level, it is important to expand the curriculum with work by researchers of colour. “Consulted and cited,” is how Bier puts it. In addition, she believes we don’t see enough professors of colour. “Similarly to how the university has drawn up a policy for women academics, it should also adopt one from people of colour. (…) One of the university’s main goals is societal impact. In that case, you should work to create an environment in which everyone can excel.”
Frederick Ntow of the EUR Diversity and Inclusion office responded to Bier’s statements during the broadcast. “She mentioned a lot of things that we should be doing, as well as things we have already set to work on. First and foremost, we need to gain insight into the precise nature of this problem and how to address it. This is something we are currently studying.” The university has also appointed diversity officers within each faculty and has worked to bring ‘allies’ in touch with each other, says Ntow.
Connection with the city
While student Dap is receptive to the ideas put forward by the Diversity and Inclusion office, in her view the university should do more to connect with its hometown. “Go into the city and seek out people with the relevant knowledge and experience. There are so many grassroots organisations.”