Eloe Kingma has been appointed Confidential Adviser at the Faculty of Humanities per 1 June, joining Lia van Gemert and Eric Laeven.
It is a bit strange with regard to timing to start as Confidential Adviser now that this position has come under such attack. I do understand the criticism: Confidential Advisers are not really equipped to solve problems. During the course that I took in order to become a Confidential Adviser, the emphasis mainly lay on offering an outlet; a safe and confidential way of opening up when you are dealing with discrimination, aggression, sexual intimidation or bullying. Naturally, this is very important, but in many cases it means the unsafe situation will still persist. And my main reason for becoming a Confidential Adviser is, of course, that I want to do something about that.
At the same time, it is also a fine moment to start: in the current climate, few managers will take reports of sexism, racism and other undesirable behaviours in the workplace lightly. The appointment of an ombudsperson will also provide important support when it comes to combating unwelcome conduct.
Within the research school ASCA I have already been functioning as point of contact for PhD candidates for ages. Because of this, I am familiar with the delicate situation that springs from the power imbalance and dependency with which many of the university’s staff members and students are dealing. I will gladly help think of ways to deal with eventual conflicts and will hopefully be able to contribute to balancing relations.
In addition, as Confidential Advisers we will inform management and the representative advisory bodies about what is going awry in the workplace. Therefore, I would like to encourage anyone who encounters undesirable behaviour to report it. It is important that these things come to the surface so that management can repair and enhance trust by reacting adequately and transparently.