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Foto: Vittoria Dentes (UvA)

Diversity officer to stay on three more years attracts student criticism

Dan Afrifa,
13 november 2020 - 09:23

Action group Diversity Forum has criticised the university’s decision to extend chief diversity officer Anne de Graaf’s contract for at least another three years.

Anne de Graaf will continue in her role as UvA chief diversity officer (CDO) for the next three years. As a human rights expert, de Graaf maintains she is committed ‘to an inclusive and equal university environment’. In a statement, De Graaf said that he had already ‘achieved a lot’.


Action group Diversity Forum thinks differently. An alliance of student organisations (it calls itself the watchdog of decolonisation, diversity and social justice at the UvA) it has started a campaign to draw students’ attention to the decision, using the hashtag #WheresThePlanAnne on Instagram. Folia spoke with Hahae Son (21), former member of the Central Student Council (CSR) and member of the Diversity Forum to find out more.

‘The report was drawn up by people with context-specific knowledge concerning life at the UvA, but three years later this advice is not being followed’

According to Son, the Diversity Forum's criticism stems largely from what it sees as a lack of policy. ‘Part of the CDO’s job description was to draw up a diversity policy based on the 2016 Diversity Committee Final Report. That report was drawn up by people with context-specific knowledge concerning life at the UvA, but three years later this advice is not being followed.’ The Diversity Forum states on Instagram that only 9 of the 56 recommendations from the report have been incorporated into the diversity memorandum, the UvA’s diversity policy.


‘Demonstrably incorrect’

A UvA spokesperson has a different opinion. ‘The recommendations of the Let’s Do Diversity Report have been largely adopted. Anyone who says otherwise is demonstrably incorrect. Important themes and recommendations, such as the creation of the post of diversity officer, the faculty diversity officers and the ombuds officer, are included in the diversity memorandum. So too is making the workforce more diverse and making extra efforts to attract students in the Amsterdam region. The memorandum was drawn up after an UvA-wide consultation and this policy therefore has broad support within the organisation.’


De Graaf understands the frustration of the Diversity Forum. However, it's too easy to just point fingers. ‘It may be tempting to say: X and Y has yet to happen. But in the 2016 report, I counted 68 recommendations instead of 56. I merged them and as we achieve goals, we tick them off. We cannot tackle everything at once, but those who follow us will see from our blog that we work very hard.’


Several years

What about the implementation of the recommendations from the diversity report? It depends on how you look at it. At the end of September, the CDO team published the CDO magazine which includes the 2018-2019 annual report and the ‘2020 plan’. The UvA spokesperson explains: ‘The CDO team draws up its own annual plan, listing their priorities and actions. In addition, the CDO has provided important input for the university-wide action plan. Four themes are central in the diversity memorandum. For each theme the report describes the policy, how its implementation will be handled and which new projects will be tackled UvA-wide. So you must understand that this is a project that will take several years.’