Scenes on Social Safety

A misplaced joke, or a hurtful jibe?  A thoughtless remark, or a denigrating sneer? Outright bullying, or subtle micro aggression? In today’s international teaching environment, with its hierarchical character and multiplicity of cultural and sexual sensitivities, the borderline between acceptable and unacceptable behaviour is not always easily visible. For a symposium on Social Safety the Erasmus University Rotterdam commissioned the Dutch Actors’ Society to write and produce four short scenes to illustrate various forms of unacceptable behaviour and spark internal discussion. The central question was: do you feel free to express yourself at this university without fear of repercussion or reprisal? These four scenes can help trigger a provocative discussion among all stakeholders in the world of academia.

The Dutch Actors’ Society on stage with the EUR expert panel

Case One
HR has decided to implement a new software package, but the consultation process has been less than optimal. When a junior from IT gives a training session to departmental office managers, he encounters resistance, but why does no-one speak out?

Case Two
A meeting is in progress. The boss arrives, a fun-loving personality whose racist and homophobic attitudes are skilfully masked by wit and humour. One micro aggression follows another. Who should call her on it? Who dares? And how do you do it?

Case Three
During a lecture to international students, a teacher makes a faux pas. One student accuses him of racism; others disagree. The lecture erupts into a free-for-all. How can teachers adapt to the globalized teaching environment? When does political correctness stifle academic debate? And what responsibility do students have?

Case Four
A young female PhD student is distressed by improper sexual advances from her promotor, a senior academic. A fellow student advises her not to make an issue of it  ‘It’s just the way he is’. But if we normalize bad behaviour, won’t it just get worse?

Writer and director:
 Tony Maples
Actors: Suzanne Spliethoff, Loek van den Wijngaard, Elske Rollema and Tamara Markus
Duration: 4 scenes, each scene (3-5 minutes) followed by a discussion with an expert panel and the audience
Moderator: prof. dr. Semiha Denktaş (chief diversity officer EUR)