Christian students confronted with mockery in lecture hall

12 Mar 2019

Teachers making insulting jokes as well as mocking students about the Christian faith: according to two Student Council members, it happens regularly. Yesterday, they questioned the Executive Board about it.

Student Council member Lisa de Jager heard the stories first hand, as a representative of the Christian student associations: students having to deal with comments that are meant to be funny in front of a packed lecture hall. She herself has also felt like being treated as dumb, because she believes in certain Christian dogmas, which are not always in line with science.

She names an example one of her friends, a biology student, gave her. ‘When a teacher was explaining the concept of symbiosis, he said: “It might be hard to believe, but if Christians believe that the Holy Spirit got Mary pregnant, this is also possible.”’

‘It’s even harder to swallow that these jokes are made at a Catholic university’

‘I’m sure these jokes are meant to be funny’, De Jager says, ‘but for some Christian students they are insulting. ‘You have to imagine that a comment like that is made in front of a packed lecture hall. That makes you feel uncomfortable. But you’re also not very likely to stand up to reply. Because of the dominant position of a teacher giving lectures.’

Even harder to swallow, according to De Jager, is that for some Christian students the reason they went to the Radboud University was its Catholic identity. ‘And then you have to put up with jokes like these.’


During the council meeting, together with Job Verwaaij of student faction asap, De Jager asked if the Executive Board was willing to take action after receiving these signals. At least six students from different faculties told De Jager and Verwaaij about teachers mocking their faith.

‘To us, these stories serve as a signal’, Verwaaij says. ‘Six stories don’t say much about the complete problem. First and foremost we think it’s important that this leads to more awareness among teachers. That they’ll think twice before mocking students. In an academic setting, students from different backgrounds and with different opinions should feel welcome.’

The Executive Board was surprised about the stories of ‘religion mocking’ in the lecture hall and promised to discuss it with the faculty deans.

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