7 February 2019
Call for Diversity & Inclusivity Grants 2019

Feeling fit, not insufficient

Like last year, UM’s Executive Board has allocated €75,000 available to support initiatives that support diversity and inclusivity. The call for the 2019 Diversity & Inclusivity Grants proposals has opened. Meanwhile, the initiatives of last year’s recipients are starting to make a difference.

Identifying what makes people uncomfortable

Together, they aim to promote body diversity and inclusivity at UM SPORTS, so that every body – regardless of weight, age, gender expression, ethnicity, ability, etc. – feels welcome to engage in physical activity. The first step of the project is gathering data: the team are conducting surveys, focus groups and observational research into people’s perceptions of UM Sports. In April, they will start developing some firm and well-shaped recommendations in time for the summer – which brings us to the inspiration for the project.

“UM SPORTS had a marketing campaign with a picture of a chubby baby and a call to get beach-ready – it was well-intentioned but it baffled some people”, remembers Moon, a bachelor’s student at FPN. She describes privileging aesthetics over functionality as one of the main problems. “Of course, instructors want to get people to push their limits – but why not motivate people in terms of health rather than looks?” One can see the logic: if those exercising are quite fit to begin with, urging them to go from a six to an eight pack might do more psychological harm than it would do physiological good.

Moon Waldén, member of UM SPORTS for Every Body, appreciating her body's functionality.

Small tweaks for a more inclusive community

From instructors invoking ideals of beauty to older members of the UM community feeling out of place because of chiselled students, UM SPORTS is aware that they could be more inclusive. “They are very supportive and really want us to help them make everyone feel welcome.” The project might not change the societal ideal of what e.g. a woman’s body should look like, but if a few more people enjoy regular exercise, the increase in health and happiness surely constitutes money well spent.

UM Diversity and Inclusivity (D&I) Grants

UM wants to support initiatives like UM SPORTS for Every Body, which harness the motivation and ingenuity of its members to benefit the whole university community in promoting inclusiveness.  Last year, the UM Diversity and Inclusivity (D&I) Grants funded seven such initiatives. Diversity Officer Constance Sommerey is pleased with the results and thinks the grants are important: “The term diversity management sounds like a top-down process. But we want to nurture bottom-up initiatives to promote organic change in the organisation. This is a great way to show that we care about the amazing ideas on inclusiveness from within the UM community. We are very excited about the second round of D&I Grants in 2019.”

By: Florian Raith