Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Initiatives
Statement of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion - June 2021
As members of the Young Arts Network (YARN), we believe that diversity, equity and inclusion must be foundational values for the university, in accordance with our conviction that the academic pursuit of truth and knowledge is undertaken in service to all of humanity and to the non-humans with whom we share this planet.
We use the language of diversity, equity, and inclusion with intention, though we also recognise the limitations of these terms. The term “diversity” has become conventional, polite language to signify institutional virtue, and too often diversity is troublingly treated as a university resource to be managed (Ahmed, 2012). By diversity, we do not aim to gesture towards an empty or palatable multiculturalism but rather seek to cultivate a community at the University of Groningen that is characterised by meaningful difference.
At YARN, we understand that diversity can be intersectional, multivariate and complex. Specifically, by diversity, we refer to the range of physical and neurological ways of being in the world as well as to a spectrum of identities or affiliations informed by but not limited to race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, socio-economic background, age, language and religion. We also encourage a plurality of knowledge systems and ontologies within our classrooms, recognising that universities have historically privileged particular Western ways of knowing and categorizing over others, thereby shaping the ways in which societies function. Furthermore, we understand diversity to incorporate the wide range of economic, geographic, cultural, and life experiences that each member of our community carries with them.
At the same time, by addressing equity and inclusion, we recognise that certain communities have been marginalised more than others, for example, Black lives. Rather than solely pursuing equality which indiscriminately offers equal opportunities to all regardless of circumstance, our prime concern is equity. Equity acknowledges the systemic and historic injustices that have made participating in the university disproportionately more difficult for certain communities and recognises that these communities will require greater support than others in order to experience equal opportunities. Moreover, in our commitment to equity and inclusion, we wish to acknowledge the intersectionality of identity--that individuals possessing multiple marginalised identities experience exponential and/or unique forms of injustice due to the intersection of these identities (Crenshaw, 1989). In simpler terms, we wish to develop a community where every member feels welcome and has the opportunity to flourish.
As YARN, we believe that the cultivation of inclusiveness requires the active engagement and full integration of all our diversity. We recognise the benefits of diversity and understand that inclusiveness requires an explicit effort to promote non-exclusive attitudes, activities and policies in our environment.
To this end, as YARN, we commit to:
- Increasing our efforts to actively cultivate an inclusive culture in our environment.
- Raising awareness about issues pertaining to diversity and inclusion, both inside and outside our classrooms.
- Encouraging greater diversity at all levels within the university.
- Learning and supporting each other in our growth around topics of diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging.
- Promoting and supporting efforts taken by colleagues, students and staff to increase diversity.
- Acknowledging and actively tackling any forms of racism and other forms of exclusion in and around our university.
- Creating explicitly anti-racist* and inclusive learning and working environments.
- Challenging ourselves, our colleagues and our students to examine our own attitudes and practices so that our university can become truly diverse, inclusive and equitable.
Please feel free to share, use and/or adapt this statement for your own department or community’s benefit.
*We intentionally name racism and advocate for anti-racist initiatives here because research shows that diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives often privilege addressing forms of discrimination that feel "easier" or "more comfortable" and, in these cases, almost always racial identity is the marginal identity which is disregarded or minimised. For example, DEI initiatives tend to disproportionately favor white women (since it checks the gender discrimination box).
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