“My mother had a pretty tough time when she came to Europe from Nigeria. As a result, I’ve known from a young age what it’s like for people who move here from a very different country. Personally, I’ve always lived in the Netherlands, so culturally speaking I simply feel Dutch. That makes a huge difference. Because I’m Dutch and really am regarded that way, Dutch student life didn’t come as a shock to me. When I started studying, I tried out all kinds of different associations: tennis, sailing, investing, you name it. I made a lot of nice friends there and had some great times. That’s the kind of thing that makes me feel at home.

“However, there are also times when I feel less at home. This is a very international university, so you might think it would be a progressive hub. In some ways, it is – but still not enough. Look at the curriculum, for example; much of the knowledge production is pretty Eurocentric. When we’re taught about great thinkers in philosophy, economics and sociology, it’s very much centred around our part of the world. The further away the students originally come from, the more they notice that. We’re becoming increasingly international, so in the long run this just isn’t sustainable. Decolonising the curriculum would be a sensible idea.

Simone le comte – sanne van der most

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“EUR sometimes falls short in other areas as well. I’m the vice president and marketing officer of ASAH, which stands for Association of Students of African Heritage. In principle, we’re just a student association. In our case, however, the central focus is on African culture and creating a space in which students can express their cultural identity. While it’s obviously nice that we’re being afforded this opportunity, there’s still the occasional misstep, like when our association was invited to the university’s anniversary a few months ago. Even though they had all the details of plenty of other associations to hand, they didn’t even know our name. That doesn’t really feel quite right. During Eurekaweek, the organisers referred to us and other cultural associations like us as ‘those multiculturals’. We were also given less time to present ourselves than the other associations. So does that mean we’re less important somehow?

Baasnne saeed – sanne van der most

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“In any case, this shows that the conversation about how to deal with people with a different cultural identity isn’t always conducted very well. And then there are the little things between students themselves, like being called a ‘multicultural’ or people looking at you strangely because of what you eat. Sometimes, you also hear of people with an afro haircut being asked whether they’ve had an electric shock. Those kinds of things still happen, you know. It’s precisely those things that make people feel different, which is why it’s important to have an African student association. We offer a place where you don’t experience things like that, but we also keep the university on its toes – for example by constantly pointing out that it should take cultural student associations seriously. It’s important that we all take our responsibility to remain critical when it comes to stereotypes and not to be afraid of feedback. It’s something we can learn from, after all.”

Paul van Geest EUR campus diversiteit inclusie_Sanne van der Most (1)

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