What is Erasmus Pride, and why is it important for RSM and EUR?
Sarah: The biggest role we play is to spread awareness and to positively contribute. People – queer and non-queer – are starting to know more about Erasmus Pride and who we are, and our aim is to ensure acceptance of queer people overall. If non-queer students become more accepting now, that will have a positive effect on how they behave towards people later on in their professional lives and beyond. We organise a variety of activities like social drinks and events for members and non-members, and we’re also available to answer any questions.
Stephan: Absolutely! And in addition to fun activities, we also advocate for broader LGBTQ+ rights on campus. For example, we have recently advocated for gender-neutral WCs to be placed on campus. We met with multiple decision makers in EUR to discuss ideas about where to locate the gender-neutral WCs, what kind of signage they should have, etc. Soon, these facilities will be rolled out at various locations across campus.
In general, do you find that the students on campus are inclusive and accepting?
Sarah: The level of inclusion is fine on campus, but acceptance isn’t always high. Discrimination is still there, along with occasional violence and threats on and off campus. The safety of our members is our priority! There needs to be more acceptance, and we hope to help others see that more clearly. Most of our activities are passive. We ensure our visibility on site and we’re able and happy to answer questions, educate, and organise and host on- and off-campus events.
How do you help students who just have questions or are reluctant to join because they are not yet ‘out’?
Sarah: People don’t have to be members to come in and talk with us or to come to our events. Not all our members are queer, some just want to be involved in the community and help. We’re especially sensitive to the varying backgrounds (religions, nationalities) of our members and non-members, and we understand that not everyone who is out in the Netherlands is free to be out in their own country. If people want to come out but aren’t sure how, they can ask us, and we’ll help guide them. If they’re just curious and want to ask questions, they don’t have to be scared about commitment. We want all our visitors to feel at home in their decisions, and we’re here to help them achieve that in a confidential and accepting way.
What are your experiences so far with Erasmus Pride?
Sarah: I’ve enjoyed being on the Erasmus Pride board. It takes a lot of time to serve on the board, but it’s almost time to pass on the responsibility. Meeting new people, queer and otherwise, has been very satisfying. We hosted our first gala this year, and the results were quite positive!
Even though being on the board has been fulfilling, it has been a lot of hard work and not always easy. It can be stressful when we plan events off-campus, and our group has to stay behind a closed door. There is still an element of danger. It’s a sensitive group of people, and we always have to be aware when we go out as a group. On the board, we also have to constantly keep in mind that our actions have positive and negative consequents. For example, we never post photos on social media without first getting permission from those present in the photos. Members have to feel and be safe with our actions.
Stephan: I started out in the introduction committee, and last year I chaired the marketing committee. My time on the board and being involved in the committees has provided me with personal growth and hands-on experience on how to manage a team. I’ve also had the opportunity to cooperate with IQSN, the inter-city queer network, to host monthly activities.
The work experience has been tremendous! Our board consists of just five people, and we take care of 300 ‘clients’. No boss, no leadership. Just cooperation and learning by doing. What’s really great is that future employers see university board experience on a candidate’s CV as an added bonus.
How will you help to ensure success and visibility for the association?
Stephan: We’ve been putting a lot of plans into action which will have a positive impact on the future of this association and expand on what future boards can do. For example, hosting regular networking events to strengthen the foundations of the association. Next to the safety of our members, we aim to help improve the lives and futures of EUR students.
Sarah: By the end of June, we should have a new board, which will be introduced at the start of Eurekaweek. This gives the new board the opportunity to talk with people and get to know some of the existing members. They’ll also host some of the Eurekaweek activities, such as karaoke night and a pub crawl, where we’ll guide our student members to queer-friendly locations in Rotterdam. These relaxed social events help students to figure out if they want to join our association for the coming academic year.
How do your current studies factor into your work at Erasmus Pride? Do you see a link to work experience?
Sarah: In addition to being a board member, I’ve been studying for my MSc Management of Innovation. Next year, I’ll finish my master and I have a part-time job waiting for me at a start-up in The Hague. During my time on the Erasmus Pride board, I have improved my communications skills, learned to think ahead and can decisively talk with clients about what they want versus what can be offered.
What kind of involvement do EUR alumni have in Erasmus Pride?
Sarah: We were recently included in a lighthouse career cafe event, and some of the alumni participated. During this event we discussed various topics such as what it’s like to be a queer person in a professional setting. Some of our members are EUR alumni, but some are not. If non-member alumni want to participate in one of our upcoming closed events, they can simply message us via Instagram, and we’ll add them as a ‘plus one’ of a member student.
About Pride Month
Around the world, June is known as LGBTQ+ Pride Month. The Pride movement started growing throughout the 1960s and became more widely visible in June 1969 when, at the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village in New York City, a celebration was stormed by police. This peaceful celebration quickly became an uprising when the growing crowd reacted to police brutality. It started the gay liberation movement and the annual celebration commemorates this. Pride Day is now the last Sunday in June and has expanded worldwide to include a variety of events throughout that month.
How has Erasmus Pride contributed to June’s Rotterdam Pride?
Sarah: To kick off Pride month, we hosted our first gala on 1 June. We participated in the Rotterdam Pride march on 2 June and walked with quite a few members. On 3 June, we put up a stand at the Pride Festival. And on Saturday, 17 June we hosted a pride drag queen cocktail party. We all had an amazing time!
Stephan: Everyone is welcome at Erasmus Pride. If you’d like to go to a specific event, check out our Instagram or LinkedIn channels. If it’s a closed event, DM us on Instagram and request to be a ‘plus one’ for one of our members.
Sarah emphasises: It’s important to know that ours is a safe space. We all love to meet new people, answer questions and help anyone who needs it. Want to join but you’re not sure? We can discuss that with you too.