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Interview with Belle Jansen, confidential adviser for students at the Faculty of Science

Published on 16-11-2023
In the coming weeks, we will pay extra attention to Social Safety at the UvA. But what does actually happen behind the scenes to ensure this? To shed some light on this, we spoke to Belle Jansen, confidential adviser for students at the Faculty of Science. Why did she become a confidential adviser and how can she help you if you have experienced undesirable behaviour?
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Belle Jansen
Belle Jansen

Why did you want to become a confidential adviser? 

"I think it is very important that students know that there is a place where they can go if they experience inappropriate and undesirable behaviour. So that they can talk about it, and not be left with feelings of loneliness, shame, helplessness or sadness. Unfortunately, this is not always the case and the presence of 'the right points of support' alone is not enough. The BOOS broadcast on sexual harassment on The Voice, for instance, showed this. Taking the step to go to a confidential adviser is not always easy. I would like to help make it more accessible to talk about undesirable behaviour and how to report it. It often helps that person enormously to be able to talk to someone if they have experienced something unpleasant. That way you don't have to keep walking around with an issue on your own." 

As project coordinator at the Teaching and Learning Centre, I have little direct contact with students. I can imagine that it is more accessible to be able to tell their story to someone they do not encounter on a daily basis, as is often the case with a study adviser or lecturer. Because I don't judge students and there is no power relationship, I hope this makes it easier to go to a confidential adviser and that students feel safe with me to share their story."  

Why is social safety important / Why should the UvA/FNWI pay attention to Social Safety?   

"It ensures that all students and staff feel safe and welcome. Students who feel safe are better able to concentrate on their studies, are more likely to actively participate in classes, and collaborate with fellow students without fear of making new friendships. They also participate in study (association) activities and are part of the UvA community. So it enriches their learning experience and promotes an inclusive campus culture. A culture where students with diverse backgrounds, cultures and beliefs feel accepted and valued. And I wish that for everyone."  

What kind of questions/problems can students come to you with?  

"Students who encounter discrimination, aggression, violence, bullying or sexual harassment at the UvA and want to tell their story about it in a confidential conversation. Together we can talk about what is going on and see what is needed. Sometimes students doubt whether it is 'bad enough', but often the rule is: if it doesn't feel right to you, it isn't right. Anything you experience as undesirable behaviour is worth discussing. Even if you are in doubt about the boundaries of undesirable behaviour. It could be a situation you witnessed or something you experienced yourself. I give space to tell the story in confidence, listen without judgement and can think along and possibly guide you towards a solution." 

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