Alex was nominated for Student of the Year due to his goal to educate people on diversity and inclusion, and improve that at the university. Along with his faculty’s diversity officer Laura den Dulk, he has organised iftars for muslim students during ramadan, arranged ‘student-confidential persons’, given lectures on queer emancipation and intersectionality and recently he pitched the idea of having all-gender bathrooms on campus. People who nominated him describe him to be extremely modest, friendly and helpful: “Sometimes he is so helpful that it comes at the expense of paying attention to himself”, said one of his nominators.

EM WP-Student of the Year-2023-Femke Legué

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How do you feel about your nomination?

“To be honest I was quite shocked but very happy of course. I don’t really like being in the spotlight, and I try to do things for others most of the time. But I’m happy my efforts were recognized.

“I think I’m a ‘make-it-happen’ person. I always try to do my best to turn ideas into reality, many events and policies were pushed forward or curated by me, although I collaborate with other faculty members of course. For me it’s not about a single initiative, a conference, iftar, policies and student confidential persons are all important.”

What drives you to be so committed to diversity and inclusion?

“I’m very passionate about helping people who feel different in their identity than others. And I feel like my team and I look at D&I beyond just ‘how diverse are we’, we definitely have a lot of diversity here, but not enough meaningful inclusion.

“I’ve struggled with injustice and discrimination in the past and in the Netherlands as well, so I know how difficult it is to feel out of place. And even though Erasmus is becoming a more diverse university, there’s still a lot of work to be done. I just want to be able to help make people feel at home as much as possible, that was also the idea with the iftar. We really wanted to create that sense of community for muslim students and staff.”

Do you get extra support from anyone?

“The diversity officer at ESSB, Laura den Dulk, is my collaborator. We have a consensus that we’re not here to show how diverse and inclusive we are but we look internally into our faculty and we make policies. That’s why she’s always very open to listen to my point of view because she knows that I’m a bit younger and I know how students think. Because of her position she can make it happen more easily. Marjolein Kooistra, the communications advisor of ESSB is also always there to support our events, give suggestions on communications, and make connections.”

Is your motivation related to your upbringing?

“I’m a queer migrant and I was kicked out of my home by my dad. My dad is very conservative and patriarchal, and honestly sometimes I think if I wasn’t queer, and had gone through the struggles, I’d be an asshole. But now I look back on it and think: if that didn’t happen would I still be here? Would I still have saved up money to study abroad?

“My grandma gave me a religious charm with the goddess of the sea. She never really understood why I wanted to live abroad, but she still gave me a lucky charm to give me her blessing. It’s always in the back of my mind, also to make my grandma proud. It always reminds me to not forget who I am.”

Tell us something nobody knows about you

“I wear kids’ clothes. Because I’m a bit smaller. I can also probably mention this, but I have problems peeing in a Dutch urinal. I don’t find Dutch toilets super inclusive for small people.”

The election for Student of the Year is organised by Studium Generale and Erasmus Magazine. The jury has chosen the finalists from 104 nominations. From 11 May, you can vote for one of the students. These votes are one part of the final outcome. The jury will vote again and the very last round of voting will be by the public on 31 May.

Students of the Year 2023_nominaties_nominees_AmranMahamed-SüheylUyar&TevfikÇiçek-PimdeBoon-AlexHuang-ReneedeGroot_Thanh Nguyen

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