VU Amsterdam has one of the most culturally diverse student population in the Netherlands. Our students also differ in gender, gender identity and sexual orientation, physical and mental capabilities, religion, ideology and philosophy of life, and social-economic status. That makes diversity at VU Amsterdam a matter of fact.
On the one hand, diversity enriches. A diverse student population and staff population means that our students and staff members differ in their life experiences, knowledge and perspectives. When our students and staff meet, they learn more about not only each other, but also themselves. This knowledge enriches us as individual people – and with that, VU Amsterdam as a university.
On the other hand, diversity also comes with challenges. The more people differ from one another, the more the risk of for instance discrimination, inaccessibility and exclusion increases. To combat these risks, we need to analyse in what ways VU Amsterdam has to adapt. We may investigate if our application procedure invertedly puts some groups at a disadvantage while favouring other groups. Additionally, we may inspect if our buildings are accessible to everybody who moves through them. In other words, something we’ve ‘always done that way’ is suddenly done differently; these changes can cause tension.
To benefit from the pros and act upon the cons, VU Amsterdam actively creates a university in which everybody is welcome and feels at home. That drives the Diversity Office to, firstly, support staff members, teachers and students with its expertise and, secondly, actively seek various collaborations with faculties, service departments and student organisation as well as other universities and organisation.
Our efforts at VU Amsterdam follow 6 goals. These goals are broad and ambitious and function as dreams for the future. To make these dreams realistic, we specify these goals through concrete steps. We define these steps as we go, because this flexibility helps us to adapt to societal developments and the needs of the VU community.