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Diversity & Inclusion Advisory Group is here to give marginalised groups on campus a voice

The Faculty of Humanities is committed to creating a diverse and inclusive community for both students and staff. With the establishment of the Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Group, the faculty is a welcome step closer to creating a workplace where everyone feels at home and represented. We spoke to committee member Eduardo Alves Vieira about the group's objective and its ambitions.

'We provide solicited and unsolicited advice to the faculty when it comes to promoting equality, inclusion and diversity to give everyone the same professional and personal opportunities, regardless of their ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, and so on. We are not only there for our colleagues in each faculty department, but also - and perhaps especially - for our students,’ explains Alves Vieira. He believes that every professional institution should have an advisory group on diversity and inclusion. "The main idea is to give a voice to marginalised groups. By having such an advisory group, the University helps us to provide the tools to fight systemic prejudice and discrimination.'

Building a structure

Everyone on the board brings a unique perspective to the table, as all members come from different disciplines and different walks of life. Alves Vieira, associate professor at the Leiden University Centre for Linguistics (LUCL), was approached because of his combined knowledge of gender, sexuality and language from his research on queer and LGBTQIA+ linguistics.

The composition of the group was left to the members themselves. 'We had to start everything from scratch,' recalls Alves Vieira. 'So, it took us a long time to shape the advisory group, because even things that seemed small, like the language we should use when writing a document, could require a lot of discussions. Our first year was mainly about trying to set up the group. Now that we have that structure, it becomes easier for us to discuss issues and give advice.'

Greater visibility

Despite the fact that the basic structure is in place, Alves Vieira notes that not everyone knows of the group's existence. We want to make the advisory group more visible. If people do not know we exist, they will never approach us,' he says. 'Maybe we can do that with a newsletter that we send to the institutes, so that our colleagues become more aware of diversity and inclusion. We also want to select a few topics to focus on, as it is unfortunately impossible to choose them all now. That way we can steadily build our portfolio on diversity and inclusion.'

The Holland Scholarship

That portfolio already includes a few successes since the group has been involved in various projects. 'For example, we were part of the committee that selects the recipients for the Holland Scholarship,' says Alves Vieira. The Holland Scholarship is a scholarship for international students from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) who want to obtain a higher education degree in the Netherlands.

During the selection process, he kept his own experiences with academia in mind. 'I think I have experienced some things in my academic and professional career that some of my colleagues - hopefully - have not. Not only because of my disadvantaged background as someone born in Brazil who left the country to live in a very different culture, for example, but also because I am part of the LGBTQIA+ community. Unfortunatelly, Brazil is one of the most LGBTQIA+-phobic countries in the world, and being part of this community in a country like this gives you an awareness that some may not need to survive, for example. So, knowing how important a scholarship can be, when I went through the candidates, I tried to point out those who deserved and needed the scholarship the most.'

If you have any questions or suggestions, or if you would like to become a member and/or support the work carried out by the D&I Advisory Group, please send a message to the secretary Aurelie van ‘t Slot via divers-inclusief@hum.leidenuniv.nl. Of course, you are also free to contact one of its members directly.

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