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08 June 2021

Please talk about any misconduct you experience

Our social life is dramatically stifled by government regulations. Our education was turned from a wholesome on-campus experience into Zoom call followed by Zoom call. Many of us went back home—to be close to the ones we love most, or to be in an environment that is one-hundred percent familiar and, so, offers comfort and stability. Though, some of us were forced.

This pandemic is no longer simply a question of whether you have to get tested, if you have to spend some ten odd days in quarantine, or if you’re going to be able to see that one friend you haven’t talked to in months. This pandemic has caused pain and grief. It has not only brought about financial crises, but bigger issues that have, so far, been hidden in the dark thicket of ignorance and unenlightenment.

What I mean is that the Covid pandemic has uncovered the deepest, darkest facets of student life. Cases of plain racism, discrimination, intimidation based on sexism or xenophobia, active ostracism of non-Dutch students, student misbehaviour in Zoom classes.
It’s students against students, students against staff, staff against students, and staff against staff.

Although the pandemic has helped us see clearer what is happening, has helped some come forward about their experiences or what they’ve witnessed, we are a long way from being fully aware of the sociocultural ongoings ‘behind the scenes.’

What we need most is change in the very roots of our culture but that is much easier said than done. But all the appeals, the talk, the calling on, the urging does nothing if the other doesn’t realise why we are pleading.
So, I’ve prepared a little lesson on intersectionality! I’m kidding.

My study Literature and Society has opened my eyes to the inequalities and inequities of the world

What I would like to say is that this is something I learned about in the very first semester of my study, Literature and Society. Otherwise useless, you might think. It really isn’t and I’ve come to realise that time and time again. It has opened my eyes to the inequalities and inequities of the world, to the malpractices and negligence that can cause the greatest harm.

If you’re reading this and you’ve experienced any of the cases I’ve mentioned above—the VU offers confidential counselors for you to talk to (you can find them via this mail address: vertrouwenspersonen-studenten@vu.nl and the Social Security at the Security Desk will be happy to help you figure out what to do (the Security Desk is in the Main Building, at KC-04. Otherwise there is always the psychological counselors for students to make appointments with via psychologists@vu.nl. Consider speaking up, awareness is the first step towards prevention.

If you’re reading this and you’ve heard from friends, classmates or colleagues that they’ve experienced something like that, encourage them to speak up, there are many people who will be able to help and, if not that, will be ready to listen and support them.

If you’re reading this and you’re just realising that, maybe, you’ve been a motivator or main actor in a case like those above, I beg of you: sit down for a while and consider, really consider, what your actions can mean for others. Also, please, please, please, google Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw and intersectionality. If you’re Dutch, also check up on Gloria Wekker and her White Innocence.

Actions always have consequences, though, most of the time, those consequences are rather felt by others than yourself. Always remember that whatever you do, others receive it differently.

KAT BARON

algemeen raadslid
k.baron@usr.vu.nl

kat baron
 

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