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2. Exceptional social initiatives

Assistance for refugees in Heumensoord

When the emergency shelter in Heumensoord reopened in October for 1,000 evacuees from Afghanistan, Radboud University took action to help support them. For instance, several Bachelor’s and pre-Master’s courses were opened up to the newcomers, and dozens of students and staff became actively involved as buddies. In 2015 as well, when 3,000 asylum seekers were living in Heumensoord, the university sprang into action to assist their ‘neighbours’ (Heumensoord is located just south of the campus).

In offering its assistance, the university works with the social organisations Bindkracht10, the Red Cross and the Dutch Council for Refugees. The assistance offered was aligned with the needs of the Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (COA) – the organisation responsible for the shelter – and (via COA) with the needs of the residents themselves. Campus coordination was in the hands of policy officer Saskia Paulissen, who shared information and collected ideas for assistance via a special webpage. The emergency shelter in Heumensoord closed in January 2022.

Nijmegen residents welcome Afghan refugees to Heumensoord / Photo: Bert Beelen

Free book on healthy living for all staff and students

At the opening of the academic year on Monday 6 September, Radboud University launched the book Een gezonde samenleving [A Healthy Society], a collection of scientific perspectives about healthier living and working from all corners of Radboud University. All staff and students could pick up a free copy of the book from the receptionists on campus.

This book demonstrates that the university will not remain uninvolved as our society struggles with problems such as the enormous increase in burnouts, exploding healthcare costs, psychological complaints among young people, and obesity. The authors also reflect on the flexibilisation of the job market, the sustainability of the fashion industry and the dilemmas of e-Health.

In addition to prompting thoughts about a healthier society, the book is also an appeal to scientists to work together. For instance, medical issues benefit from insights that extend beyond medical research alone: think of contributions from health communication or knowledge about the influence of cultural backgrounds on the use of medication.

Dare to Fail: There is no success without failure

This year saw the launch of a university-wide campaign for students called Dare to Fail. Students Aimée de Croon and Remy Richie started the campaign, with De Croon also acting as a student well-being assistant. The goal is to create space in study and work for making mistakes and discussing them. The programme was the winner of a ‘hackathon’ in April, which resulted in €20,000 to roll out the programme. Some of that money was used to organise the Wellbeing Week in October.

“We wanted to do something to address students’ performance pressure, decision fatigue and perfectionism”, De Croon explained about the programme. Richie: “We are striving to create a culture in which making mistakes, sharing your experiences and learning from them are seen as something positive. And above all as something you have to do to move forward.”

“We are striving to create a culture in which making mistakes, sharing your experiences and learning from them are seen as something positive.”

Student Remy Rechie

The aim is to become a permanent part of the university's support programmes and contribute to the orientation week, workshops and lectures. Another possibility is to collaborate with student counsellors in the area of choice of study or career advice. Dare to Fail collaborates with Prutswerk, a magazine set up by student Marijke Kok that is filled with stories about the power of failure. The magazine is creatively supported by students from Radboud Creative Collective.