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Many of us, our students and staff, are directly or indirectly affected by the horrific events in Gaza and Israel and share the experience of fear, sadness, anger, grief and despair. The Central Diversity Office invites you to Campus Dialogues on Friday, 27 October from 15:00 to until 17:00.

As Central Diversity Office, one of our main tasks is contributing to a diverse and inclusive university, while acknowledging the many different perspectives and backgrounds present on our campus. In the past days, we have experienced in our own diverse team how challenging this can be in light of the horrific violence we are now witnessing in the Middle-East and beyond. Maintaining a respectful and empathetic atittude towards each other’s struggles and perspectives might be more challenging but also more important than ever.

From this perspective, we acknowledge that many of our students, staff and relations have been directly or indirectly affected by the horrific violence emerging in the wake of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, now morphing into a genuine Gaza-war. As has been the case over the years, this is true for those with Israeli or Palestinian nationalities, but also for many who feel connected to it due to their background, religion, or just as human beings.

Given this situation and being mindful of the challenge of bridging differences between perspectives within our team, we would like to acknowledge this and to reach out to you to express our sympathies for any casualties and suffering you or your relations may have to cope with in this terrible time.

Via this statement we also want to mention the regular resources for students affected by crises; as a staff member you can turn to your supervisor or management for support.

In previous cases of events that were likely to have a relatively large impact on our UvA community, like the Ukraine-Russia war and the earthquakes in Turkey, as CDO we have also reached out to our network. In addition, we have offered some practical and financial support for those who wanted to organise something in response for their students and/or staff. Such events have taken place at several faculties, which included brief informative, academic presentations on the situation; some personal accounts/narratives; artistic interventions; and some informal spaces for personal exchanges.

In this situation, as well, we’d like to offer such support in addition to our sympathies. We will not ourselves initiate nor organise an event yet want to facilitate those who feel the need to do so. However, while the CDO recognizes the desire for adequate and timely responses when crises (man-made or natural) occur, its main aim is to foster a diverse and inclusive campus. In doing so it operates in a manner informed by the core values and Code of Conduct of our university. This implies that we generally aim to foster mutual understanding on our campus while we will not support events that are likely to add to conflict or tension within our academic community. Hence, we will prioritize supporting events that explicitly intend to bring different groups together or otherwise contribute to mutual understanding within our diverse community. On our site you can download the application form for support for initiatives in line with these considerations.

If you let us know about your interest, we may also be able to connect you to potential partners who are equally interested in organizing an event. Indeed, we will organize a meeting with those of our relations who are expressing such an interest in order to jointly discuss how to proceed in light of the above.

Meanwhile, we wish all our students and staff the ability to keep our heads cool and our hearts warm during this period.

Best wishes, on behalf of the Central Diversity Office,

Machiel Keestra