We are not an association, but rather a platform that brings people together, collects and shares resources, and tries to translate the experiences of our community into policy advice at UT. Th!nk with Pride focuses on four themes: policy and organisation, where we think along with UT parties (like HR) on policy level and represent the LGBTQ+ community there, social and support, as we try to bring people together and be there for each other, arts and culture, to get the spotlight to queer art as a medium to activate and share untold stories, and lastly research and education, where we collect LGBTQ+ related research and discuss how teaching at can be done in a queer-inclusive manner.
We organise events, start initiatives, and collect resources across all four themes. We are also in connection with partners in the region and beyond. And lastly, we hope to connect with you, know where to find us in case you have any ideas or want to think along. You are welcome to help in the broad sense, of focus on one theme.
WHO ARE WE?
The visibility for the LGBTQI+ community was initiated by Eric Louis. In 2018, he arranged that for the first time a large Rainbow flag flew on one of the three masts at the entrance of the campus on Coming Out day on 11 October. That same year, Eric came into contact with Alex Jonkhart, who was still working for Saxion at the time. Saxion and the University of Twente were looking for cooperation, and when Alex transferred from Saxion to the University of Twente, the working group Th!nk with Pride became reality. From that moment on, Alex and Eric worked together to increase the visibility for this community. A first Get Together during the Coming Out Week in 2019 was an event where staff and students came together to network, while enjoying a piece of rainbow cake.
Within Saxion, the working group Th!nk with Pride Saxion had already been established, and Alex and Eric decided to increase the support for the name by using the same name with the extension UT, thus naming our working group Th!nk with Pride UT. By working together, we can join forces and increase our visibility in the region. This cooperation resulted in the Diversity Day 2020 on 6 October. On this day, the rector of the University of Twente and the chairs of the boards of Saxion University of Applied Sciences and ROC van Twente came together in the Vrijhof to sign a declaration. During this week, the well known letters ‘University of Twente’ at the entrance were also in rainbow style, with the letters UN replaced by a D, creating ‘Diversity of Twente’.
Since then, new members have signed up and together with UT diversity officer Sterre Mkatini, we have formed a working group with enough power and enthusiasm to increase the visibility of the LGBTQI+ community and to set up an information platform. Thanks to the Incentive Fund, we can also organise a large number of interesting activities for the 2021/2022.
During his graduation from his masters Industrial Design Engineering, Tom Boogerd read a U-Today article by Alex about Th!nk with Pride and reached out, one thing led to the other and he became a member. After his graduation, he started as a trainee at the faculty of BMS and paused his membership for 2 months, to focus on his onboarding. Now, he is back and happily contributing to a more inclusive campus. “I call myself lucky to have a great social safety net and a lovely boyfriend, but I want the UT to be place where people without this kind of support to feel seen, celebrated and safe!” Tom works at the research support office of BMS.
Ming Xin (he/him/whatever)
Ming Xin joined the UT in February 2020 as a PhD student in the BMS faculty after working for Museum Boijmans van Beuningen. He came to the Netherlands for his relationship after an undergraduate study in China, married and did his Master’s in the UT’s Philosophy of Science, Technology and Society program. Having experienced and reflecting on life as a gay man in the Chinese and Dutch contexts, he treasures the freedom to choose personal life styles. Yet, he realizes that this freedom cannot be taken for granted, both seeing how precarious this freedom can be and acknowledging that the freedom not only brings self-fulfillment and empowerment, but also may lead to confusion, loneliness and fear to ones who are new to it. Therefore, he is keen on a social and political community which can unite and bring belongingness to people who seek and value freedom on sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression. Having encountered Th!nk with Pride in 2021, he thinks he found the place: “When I was doing my Master’s at the UT, there were no such groups. I would have liked it so much if there were.”
Tessa Dekkers has worked at the UT since 2019 as a psychology teacher, postdoc researcher and now assistant professor at the BMS faculty. Their research focuses on the development of digital solutions to improve mental health and lifestyle through generative participatory design, specifically for people who experience health inequalities and to whom current eHealth technology may not be readily accessible. As a pansexual non-binary person (she/they), she chaired the Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Gender Expression group of SEG Inclusion since 2021 and joined Th!nk with Pride as a natural follow-up. They are excited to contribute to a safe, fun, and inclusive campus for staff and students alike.
Sterre Mkatini joined the University of Twente as a D&I Officer in October 2020. As part of her role, she wants to join all the diversity celebrating working groups within the UT and was thus adamant on joining the Th!nk with Pride team! Luckily, they allowed her to join. Sterre is extremely passionate about creating a world in which everyone can feel welcome and has translated this life motto into her work vision for the UT – “Creating a UT where everyone can feel welcome and develop to their full potential”. She wants to continue standing up for the LGBTQI+ community by working with the Th!nk with Pride team. It allows Sterre to work on celebrating LGBTQI+ diversity at the UT and further pushing for equal opportunities also in a policy for all of us.
Would you like to contribute to the visibility of the LGBTQI+ community at the UT and become a member of the Th!nk With Pride working group? Please send an e-mail with a short motivation to firstname.lastname@example.org.
All efforts are appreciated! If you specifically want to contribute on one of four themes above, that is very welcome.