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Wageningen University & Research: Time for inclusive reflection

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An unusual addition has been made to the wall of fame in Omnia: a mirror. Chair of the executive board, Sjoukje Heimovaara, personally mounted the mirror on the wall on behalf of the board. ‘We can’t change the past, but we can move it into the present.’ The mirror symbolises reflection, allowing visitors to see themselves portrayed when looking from the bannister.

This event taking place on international women’s day is not without reason. ‘A day that symbolises inclusion, but it’s about more than women alone. Our WUR colleagues and students come from more than 100 different countries and have different backgrounds, religious beliefs, sexual orientations, gender identities or functional restrictions. At WUR, we are all equal’, says Sjoukje Heimovaara from the boom lift.

The wall of fame exclusively portrays men, mostly rectors and professors. The paintings moved from the Aula in the city centre to the new dialogue centre on the campus. Students and employees were asked to offer ideas about an alternative wall of fame through the university magazine Resource last year. This yielded several ideas that were picked up by a work group.

The issue is diligently considered, and all steps are thorough. The process is still underway, so no information on a new design for the wall of fame can be divulged. This spring, a dialogue will take place where students and employees from throughout the organisation are invited to discuss the portrait gallery. The wall of fame symbolises something larger. ‘Omnia is the meeting spot on campus and a building where everyone should feel at home and comfortable. We can’t change our history, but we can shape our future.’