SCDAI is an organization maintained by students for students that aims to facilitate an inclusive environment for students and staff in higher education. To do so we, the students, will advocate for systemic institutional reform and a committed involvement in raising awareness and enabling conversations about complex topics that encompass diversity & inclusion.
SCDAI will foster a safe academic environment that brings students, staff and higher management together. Through lobbying and providing a platform for marginalized students, SCDAI will serve as an integral constituent in forging the path for higher education to continuously become more inclusive of its diversity.
Our story begins back in 2019, when six International Communication students at the Hanze UAS, Groningen met in our second year of higher education. We spent our days in a classroom full of a vast variety of cultures, ethnicities, religions, sexual orientations, and gender diversity, yet felt that much of the conversations and curriculum was often exclusive and limiting. It was not rich enough to realize the true meaning of diversity the way we were promised when we applied to the study.
The same school year, an instance of racism, rooted in ignorance and bias, pushed us to come together to pursue serious changes in our faculty and institution. We felt that there were not enough resources to deal with the serious topics which a diverse group of students requires. Most of us felt held back in our educational careers due to the lack of systems and tools that enable all students, and not just one profile of student – white, Dutch, heterosexual and cisgender, to participate equally in the educational process. To achieve this, we foolishly believed that if we showed teachers, management, and peers these issues through raising awareness, we could affect fundamental change. Therefore, we founded the Student Center for Diversity Awareness and Inclusion.
The next year, 2020, brought many challenges, including bigger visibility of how pressing social and educational justice is. The murder of George Floyd sparked many protests not just in the USA, but also in every corner of the world. And while the activists and people behind the protests achieved much through using their voices, the protests also brought upon many people and organizations’ tokenistic and performative (in)actions towards racial and social justice, including our own educational institution.
Fast forward to the end of 2020, our team decided to employ a new approach. We wanted to go beyond just raising awareness, and towards committed activism and advocacy. Therefore, our name currently stands for Student Center for Diversity, Advocacy, and Inclusion – a platform that aims at fostering a more inclusive and diverse environment in higher education by advocating for the needs of underrepresented students, staff and minority groups.