A physical meeting place for students at various locations of the Avans, where anyone who needs it can blow off steam and connect with others. This is the wish of Claudia van Berg Hennegwen, a third-year student at the Department of Spatial Development in Tilburg. Her recent talk was well received by the diversity and inclusion design team.
As a college student with ADHD, Claudia struggled her whole life to make connections with people in groups where she didn’t know anyone. Also in Avans, she is initially unable to communicate with her fellow students. Then I thought: I can’t be the only one who has that, can I? I’ve been looking for a place within Avance where I can discuss this with others, but there is no place. Claudia says when asked why she wanted to create a physical community within the university, I think it’s a shame.” As students, we are young people at the peak of our social development, which is very important. The school might offer a place for that, because where else? When I asked my classmates, they told me they felt the same way. Many students lose contact with each other.
So the Tilburg student wants to create a community with spaces in every city of Avance where students who need it can meet with others. To relax, play a board game with each other, have movie nights, or listen to each other’s presentations. “To put students in touch with each other and prevent or reduce feelings of loneliness. More and more of us are experiencing tremendous stress and are not feeling well mentally. We hardly talk to each other about dreams and problems for the future, many students are slowly withering away,” says Claudia. “With the community, I hope to give students a chance to connect with each other, do fun things together and help each other. It’s a way to stimulate personal growth.”
Whether for small or large activities: Go for it. If you want to meet somewhere, not at Xplora where the students sometimes have busy discussions so there is no peace, there is no suitable place. I want to turn it into an Avance-level phenomenon with physical spaces,” says Avance student.
The initiative is now called “De Buitenbeentjes”. Because in my eyes no one and everyone is an outsider. We are all different/inappropriate in our own way. So let’s take back ‘being the odd one out’. Being neurodiverse, Like me Being or having a different race is just part of “normal”. I myself have ADHD and so do I Like me, but I certainly don’t feel “different” from other people. Like everyone else, I am only human and all people are allowed to be there. This is normal.”
According to Claudia, it’s not that there are no initiatives at Avans yet for students who fall “off the norm”. For example, refer to Pink helpdesk, an LGBTQI+ student group. “But no one knows exactly what other people are doing, I feel like it’s all a bit messy. That’s unfortunate, because there are so many great initiatives within Avans. I want to connect them and bring the students together.”
Claudia does not yet know exactly what the rooms should look like. But she is sure that something will come. newly Set up She presented her idea to Avans’ diversity and inclusion design team, where she received positive responses. This is also where the idea of a community is born, for example, to work with student support, which has recently started with living rooms Works. “We will look at how we can work more closely together in the future. This is very positive,” Claudia says enthusiastically.
“Everyone should feel at home in the room. We want to design the place in a way that appeals to everyone. Like, ‘Hey, this is a room for me, I can sit here too.’ No one wants to be alone, and that should help with that.”
The next step in the process for Claudia and the group I have put together is to write down exactly what the spaces should look like on paper. Avans will be renovating a number of buildings, where the sophomore hopes to find a place for her community. They hope to support students to be visible early on, preferably this school year. Obviously we’re going to do something. Everyone said yes to that. It really should be something for students and for students. And that will come.
Anyone who wants to think with Claudia about the community and physical space to set up can send her a message through Teams.
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