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It is precisely our differences that make this institution such a wonderful place to be

27 November 2023

Current events, such as the election to the Lower House and the conflict between Palestine and Israel, dominate conversations around the coffee machine, in classrooms, study halls and teachers' rooms. It will not have escaped anyone's notice that opinions differ, to put it mildly. If we conduct these conversations in a respectful manner, it is always beneficial to engage in them.

After all, as a university of applied sciences, we consider the diversity of our backgrounds to be a strength. We reflect society and are proud of that. Everyone is welcome, everyone can be themselves. It is all our differences that make this place so beautiful.

It can be an eye-opener to look around at others in your classroom or when walking down the corridor. You don't have to try too hard to see the diversity of our community. And it goes beyond what is visible. There are even more differences you cannot see.  People of all faiths and none sit together in class, work together on issues, or walk amiably side by side in the corridors. Some were happy with the results of last week's election, others were disappointed and still others did not vote for personal reasons.

One student or colleague may have mental health problems that no one knows about, while the other seems to go through life seemingly without any problems. One lecturer may find it difficult to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in class, for example, because of the acute nature of the suffering or the risk of polarisation, while a colleague is eager to discuss difficult topics with students.

There are many more differences among us at RUAS. But we all have one thing in common: we are human beings. People who want peace, people who are proud of their origins, people who want to give and receive love, people who are against any form of violence, people who are allowed to express their opinions, people who want to be heard and seen, people who want to live a good life, people with dreams and people with worries. People.

As human beings, we do not always have to agree with each other. In fact, when we have critical discussions or debates with each other, we only get wiser and stronger. We realise that every opinion belongs to someone else, to a person. Don't judge each other on one point of view, who knows, you might agree on other things? RUAS is a place where we want to treat each other respectfully because we want it to be a safe environment for all our students and colleagues. We hope that you will want to contribute to this, and know that you can appeal to our sense of responsibility as well.

Not everyone feels comfortable sharing their opinions or experiences when discussing difficult topics. Please know that there is always someone to talk to in our school. Students can contact their study career coach or one of our confidential counsellors. Supervisors, managers will always take the time to discuss matters that are troubling colleagues. Take advantage of this if you feel the need.

Keep talking. Keep asking questions. And let's continue to learn from each other. Check in with a fellow student or colleague from time to time to see how things are going. Be a listening ear. Be good to yourself, but also to others.

 

On behalf of the Executive Board and all deans, directors at Rotterdam UAS