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Saxion opens Diversity Office during Rainbow Days: ‘Personal contact is so important’

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Tuesday 5 October was the opening date of the Enschede Rainbow Days. Saxion is also committed to improving social acceptance, safety and integration for all LGBTI+ people. This is one of the reasons that we opened our Diversity Office at our main Ko Wierenga building on Wednesday. “This will give visible support to our students’ concerns.”

Enschede became a so-called Rainbow City in 2010. In support of this initiative, various organisations help organise the annual Rainbow Days. This year the Rainbow Days run from Tuesday 5 October (Diversity Day) until Monday 11 October (Coming Out Day), and the theme is ‘Twente loves you’. On Tuesday the Rainbow Days were officially opened when the rainbow-coloured lights were switched on at the Epi Drost building, in the presence of Executive Board President Anka Mulder, Marco Strijks (Th!nk with Pride), the Saxion Diversity Officer William Sanchez and councillor Niels van den Berg. This event took place as part of a DICE Meet-Up, a monthly gathering with the aim of discussing diversity, inclusion and stimulating equal opportunities in education and in our local area.

Open to all 

This was followed on Wednesday 6 October by students of the Students-4-Students platform officially opening the Diversity Office in room F1.32. The Diversity Office shares this space with the Saxion Green Office. “Since I started my position on 1 January I have mainly been meeting people online”, explains Diversity Officer William Sanchez. “Having a physical space will help get the message across that we are here and open to all.”

A physical space makes it easier to listen to each other and exchange thoughts and ideas. Personal contact is so important.

Diversity Officer William Sanchez

“Although online contact is fun”, Sanchez continues,  “you miss some of the feelings that are part of a story. A physical space makes it easier to listen to each other and exchange thoughts and ideas. Personal contact is so important. Body language can tell us so much more than words alone. Students and staff are welcome to drop in any time they want to get something off their chest or to have a chat.”

William wants to stress that the people in the Diversity Office are not professionally trained. “We offer peer support, but inclusivity has so many dimensions. Anyone can feel excluded at times. In really complicated situations we can make referrals for more specialised help. We are really pleased to have this physical office space, so we can offer a friendly face to students and staff who are worried about something. This space will help us bring our worries out into the open, instead of hiding them online.”

Scheduled events related to Rainbow Days

Thanks to Marco Strijks (Th!nk with Pride) and Enschede city council, the Rainbow Crossing will be opened on Monday 11 October by councillor Arjan Kampman. The Rainbow Crossing is located close to the main Ko Wierenga building. “This will help keep diversity and inclusivity in everyone’s mind, all year round”, says the councillor.

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