Representative Advisory Councils

'Gender-neutral toilets by the end of the year'

and what else to expect regarding diversity and inclusion

3 Dec 2020 11:00 | Representative Advisory Councils

In addition to studying Public Administration and working as the AUAS student assessor, I’m also the secretary of the PvdA’s National Network for Diversity and Inclusion. As a homosexual man of colour (and all the experiences that often accompany this), I am committed to working towards a world where we see the confrontations that arise from our differences as opportunities for learning. 

Sylvana Simons once said, “Sometimes you just have to walk in with your own chair and sit down at the table”. That means that you help determine what is served at the table.

Here’s a sample of the ‘menu’:

- I’ve said it before: if you want to be heard, you have to use your voice. I'm one of those amplifiers at the AUAS – I can help get your message across to the people who actually make the decisions.
- We also have Platform Inclusion, which promotes various forms of acceptance within our institution. Limitless , HvA Pride and the new student ambassadors for Diversity and Inclusion are also committed to this.
- We also have an Equal Opportunity Committee within the CMR. It is tasked with discussing this theme with the Executive Board in order to make the AUAS more inclusive.
- It’s good that this theme is a priority. While diversity and inclusion are widespread at the AUAS, they are still dealt with in a very fragmented way. It’s time to work together (more often)! It all starts with talking, but only really takes on meaning when it’s put into action.
- That is why I want to see results. If it were up to me, by the end of this academic year we would have a few gender neutral toilets at all AUAS locations. Not all toilets will be gender neutral, due to social safety issues. This is scary for some people who are fanatical supporters of the separation of the sexes. For these people, I have the following message: retreat for a while and try to imagine the AUAS is named Hogwarts. It's situated in a fantasy universe described by somebody from the same school of thought as you, you'll feel right at home there. And while you are daydreaming, the rest of us are moving with the times. It’s not acceptable that an intersex, trans or nonbinary person should be confronted with identity questions when they need to use the restroom.
- Not many people at the AUAS are aware of this, but we actually already have a gender-neutral toilet. The Faculty of Sports and Nutrition already has one thanks to the efforts of Iris van Gelderen. It is very simple: replace the sign 'ladies' or 'gentlemen' with 'toilet'. Remove the urinals and provide wastebaskets in the toilets.
- This is just one example of a small gesture that means a lot to the ‘other’. Such as gender-neutral registration forms, or integrating more non-Western philosophies into our education. More diversity among our board and management is another aspect. After all, we have committed ourselves to the inclusion agreement which states that diversity is needed at all levels.
You cannot call yourself an inclusive university of applied sciences if you only talk about diversity and inclusion. You have to act on it. And one day we’ll be able to truly say: the AUAS, that's us. There’s a lot possible at the AUAS, but we have to really want it.