A message from Professor Susan Lea, Vice-Chancellor at the University of Hull.
The death of George Floyd, and the magnitude of the global response, has brought inequality and injustice into sharp relief. In this context I felt it important to put out a personal statement.
Last year we redefined our University’s vision as creating a fairer, brighter future; it has, at its very centre, a commitment to social justice and equality. Our values are to be inclusive, empowering and progressive. This is the lens through which we must evaluate our progress against the ambition to which we all aspire.
Without doubt, we are proud of our University’s strong sense of community and we know that this is what attracts many students to choose us over other universities. However, we know that we do not always get things right. Therefore, if any members of our community ever feel excluded, or that they are not 100% welcome, valued or supported, we are not getting it right and we are not doing enough.
Importantly, if you have ever felt this way, whether you are a current or former student, colleague, or visitor to our campus, it is important that you let us know as we intend to learn from our mistakes. We may uncover some uncomfortable truths. However, only with awareness and understanding can we move forward to make real, meaningful change.
We are fortunate to have the prestigious Wilberforce Institute for the Study of Slavery and Emancipation within our University. It remains pivotal to our understanding of historic and modern-day slavery and will be a key influencer in how we take future action.
It is now 231 years since Hull-born William Wilberforce made his abolition of slavery speech in Parliament and, at a personal level, several decades since I was involved in the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa. I find it deeply disillusioning that in the year 2020, racism remains part of the fabric of our and other societies.
The diversity of our campus community has always been one of our greatest strengths. Now, more than ever, we must stand united against indifference, intolerance, ignorance, discrimination, and racism in all its forms. Further, we must ensure that our community is thoroughly inclusive.
We have taken a number of steps, in line with our vision, to achieve this goal. For example, in April we began to establish a new team to lead on Inclusion and Campus Community. The intention is that this team will proactively deliver on our inclusivity and equality agenda.
In closing, let me be clear, discrimination, in any form and on any basis, has no place here at the University of Hull. Please do talk to us about how we can do more to build an inclusive campus.
We must stand together against prejudice.
Professor Susan Lea