The paving stones between the Sanders building and Mandeville are not all the same width. It’s one problem that the recently graduated Marit de Ridder never had to think about before. Until it became clear that the rainbow zebra crossing would be located on that spot. “You can’t make one colour wider than the other”, Marit notes. “After all, you don’t want to give the impression that one colour is more important”, she explains. The solution came from the architects’ firm that also helped with coming up with ideas: the colours will have the same surface area over the entire length of the crossing. Exactly what this will look like is not yet clear. The definitive design of the zebra crossing is still some time away.
Symbolic politics or does it really help?
De Ridder is not part of the LGBTIQ+ community, she notes. Earlier, during her bachelor in Groningen, she did campaign for a rainbow zebra crossing. Last year, she saw that you could pitch ideas to the Hummingbird Fund (part of the funding available from the Rotterdam School of Management). “I started talking to Diversity and Inclusion, to COC Netherlands, to Erasmus Pride,” Marit goes on to say. “I also wondered: ‘Why isn’t there one here already?’ But this rainbow path is not so much for me, that’s why I really wanted these organisations to support the idea. And they were totally on board with it.”
The rainbow crossing ought to be, as Marit puts it, ‘in your face’. “You sometimes hear people say that they think homosexuality is ‘fine’ but that they just don’t want to see it. What a load of rubbish. It is absurd that not just anyone can walk hand-in-hand with their partner! A friend of mine doesn’t dare to do that, because it feels unsafe. A rainbow crossing sends out a clear signal, according to De Ridder: You can be who you are here.
Marit also hopes that the rainbow colours will spur students on to start talking to each other about this. “When you start studying, you discover who you are and who you want to be. I hope that this will get conversations going more readily. Maybe even students will have the courage to tell their friends that they are not straight, but bi, to give just one example. And to be honest”, says Marit, “between all these grey buildings we could do with a bit of colour, couldn’t we?”
All colours of the rainbow and more
The colours red, orange, yellow, green, violet, light pink, light blue, white, brown, black and yellow with a purple circle will span the entire Tinbergen Plaza. “The colours of the rainbow flag are constantly evolving,” says De Ridder. ” We have looked at that in this design. So, the colours for transgender people, light pink, blue and white, and the purple circles of intersexuality are also reflected in this path.”
Sometime in the next few months, the paving stones will be painted in the correct colour codes. The square will be redesigned in a few years’ time. Coloured paving stones will then be laid, as this is more sustainable than having to repeatedly paint them. When this will exactly happen is still not known. Sometime in the spring of 2022, the university says.
The sustainable idea comes from the university, the location was also a choice made by the EUR. De Ridder is very happy with both ideas. Initially, the university said ‘no’ to the idea, but after a few months they came back to it again. “I don’t know why, but I am very happy about it. I can’t wait to see the end result.”
It is not clear why the university first said ‘no’ to Marit’s proposal. This question has been put to the university, but no answer could be given yet.