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Meeting Complex Challenges with Diversity

For the first Diversity Day at Chemnitz University of Technology, representatives engaged in conversations with students and staff – Over 200 ideas and suggestions for future diversity design were contributed by those interested

The first Diversity Day at Chemnitz University of Technology (TUC) on May 23, 2023, was dedicated to listening and connecting. At various stands, students, staff, and other visitors in the Fresh Cube of the canteen on the Reichenhainer Straße Campus could converse with TUC representatives about what makes diversity and how it can be lived and shaped at the university.

Those interested were invited to give their ideas, impressions, and suggestions for diversity at TUC using three questions on the back of a diversity card. More than 200 responses were received, which Susann Preiß, research assistant in the Shaping Diversity audit, was very pleased about: "I am very happy about the many responses, which we will now evaluate and incorporate into the diversity process." 

Also, conversation partners from various areas were ready to exchange with students and staff.

On site, in addition to Susann Preiß were:

•          Emily Hähnel, representative of the Anti-discrimination Office of the StuRa

•          Frank Hohaus, Chairman of the Staff Council

•          Karla Kebsch, Women's and Equal Opportunities Officer

•          Dr. Benny Liebold, Head of the International Office

•          Dr. Daniela Menzel, Coordinator for Inclusion

•          Juliane Siemer, employee of the Central Course Guidance Service

Simon Asare from Ghana, who studies in the master's program "Information and Communication Systems" at Chemnitz University of Technology, for example, discussed the topic with them.

He vividly described the difficult situation in his home country and the opportunities offered to him by an internationally oriented university like Chemnitz University of Technology. The change of perspective, which arises through intercultural exchange is crucial: "In Europe, Africa, and Asia, there are very different cultures. I think diversity is important because it can give rise to the solutions of tomorrow. We need to meet the complex challenges that await us with diversity," says Asara.

Michael Sanne, research assistant at the Professorship of Vehicle System Design at TUC, advocated for respectful interaction in everyday life so that everyone can feel seen and contribute to the best of their ability. However, Sanne also made a limitation clear: "For me, diversity means that everyone can live out their personality, but only up to the limits each other."

Similarly, student Jana Mündel, who studies in the Public Health master's program at TUC, said: "For me, diversity means equality and participation – so togetherness instead of opposition," said Mündel. She further clarified that she wishes for more offers and visibility for the diversity topic spectrum.

At the end of the first Diversity Day, Susann Preiß summed up: "I think we have created a very good offer with the first event of this kind, so that those interested could deal with the topic of diversity in conversation with stakeholders of Chemnitz University of Technology." In the spirit of this day, very different experiences and feedback have come together: "We have gotten an impression of how differently the topic of diversity affects students and staff, and are now going back to work with valuable feedback, also thanks to the many responses on our diversity cards," says Preiß.

Keyword: Diversity Day and Dimensions of Diversity

The initiative of Chemnitz University of Technology is inspired by the German Diversity Day, to which the Charter of Diversity calls once a year for a nationwide day of action, on which companies and institutions put the idea of diversity in the spotlight. The seven core dimensions of diversity in the Charter of Diversity are age, ethnic origin and nationality, gender and gender identity, physical and mental abilities, religion and worldview, sexual orientation, and social origin.

Matthias Fejes

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