Mindlab: 'Nice first step to start the conversation together'
Abuse of power, sexually transgressive behaviour and non-funny jokes: they all came up in the stage show Mindlab, which was performed at the end of September to get staff of the Faculty of Humanities to talk about undesirable and transgressive behaviour.
'I was pleasantly surprised by the enormous wealth of topics that came up,' says Faculty Council president Jan Sleutels, who attended the first performance on Monday afternoon. 'The play was full of elements typical of academia, such as a certain degree of monomania and drive that many scientists have, but also megalomania and racism. I've been working at the university for almost thirty-five years now, and I've seen all those issues pass by in reality, although in Mindlab they are perhaps magnified a bit for the sake of the theatrical form.'
The faculty chose Mindlab's theatrical form because it provides an opportunity to engage in conversation about socially unsafe behaviour, without having to talk directly about your own experiences. After the performance, staff therefore broke up into groups to talk about what they had observed. To keep the conversation as open and safe as possible, these discussions took place with colleagues who do not work at the same institute or department.
'We have now talked to colleagues from other departments,' says Keys. 'That's a good first step, but ultimately that conversation should be held as close to your own working environment as possible. Of course that can be difficult, for instance if your supervisor or close colleagues are part of the problem, but I still think that's where the solution lies.'
In any case, the faculty will continue the conversation about undesirable behaviour. Chairperson of the event Lisa Cheng assured attendees at the end of the afternoon that the topic will remain high on the faculty’s agenda in the future. For instance, there will be a symposium on the subject in 2024.