A message from the Vice-Chancellor
Posted on behalf of: Internal Communications
Last updated: Tuesday, 14 November 2023
On Monday 23 October, Professor Sasha Roseneil, Vice-Chancellor and President emailed all staff. You can read the message below:
The unfolding conflict in Israel and Gaza is a humanitarian catastrophe that is affecting many members of the Sussex community. This is particularly so for those who have deep personal connections to the region. The current situation gives rise to profound emotions and passionately held views, and to very real disagreement amongst us. The existence of these differing beliefs and positions, and the ways in which they are expressed on campus, produces concerns for some about their own physical and psychological safety.
To support our collective ability to navigate these difficult issues, I would like to set out the following guiding principles:
At the University of Sussex, we are committed to providing an inclusive, respectful, and supportive learning and working environment for every member of our diverse and international community. Within our community, we strive to ensure that diversity of belief and opinion can be expressed and heard safely and legally, and we seek to facilitate dialogue between those with differing views. We are committed to rigorous, rational, evidenced argument and respectful discussion.
We will not tolerate antisemitism, Islamophobia or any form of racism, harassment, or discrimination. Our commitment to academic freedom and freedom of speech within the law is foundational, and essential to our work of education and research.
As events unfold in Israel and Gaza, the University's actions are informed by these commitments. The University does not take a corporate position on complex global events. We recognise that many in our community, both students and staff, have strong views and feelings about the current conflict. We ask that all members of the University community hold in mind our shared humanity, whatever the differences of belief and lived experience there might be amongst us, and that we all consider carefully the impact of our words and actions on fellow members of the Sussex community.
Our institutional values of collaboration, courage, inclusion, integrity, and kindness can serve to guide us through these difficult times.
I would also like to remind everyone of our social media policy. This was adopted last academic year, following discussion at Senate, and applies to professional and corporate accounts (see sections 2.1 and 2.4 of the policy for explanation of these terms). One of the policy’s key aims is to ensure that when individual members of staff use social media they understand the need to make it clear that the views they express are their own and not the University’s as a whole, or some part of the University’s. At times such as now, it is extremely important that this difference is clear in our own minds, to each other, and to the wider world. The social media policy is not intended to limit freedom of expression or academic freedom (section 1.3) and it does not apply to personal social media accounts.
Please read the social media policy which, as section 4.1.3 explains, should be understood alongside our Dignity and Respect policy. If you have any questions or concerns, please see section 4.5 of the policy or speak informally to your Head of Department, Head of School, or line manager.
I have, over the past week, received many emails expressing concern and distress about how events in Israel and Gaza are playing out on our own campus. I close for now by reiterating my hope that we at Sussex are able to explore new pathways to mutual understanding that enable us to embrace the diversity of background, belief, and identity that characterises our community.
Professor Sasha Roseneil
Vice-Chancellor and President
Support for staff
The University has a range of support services available for staff, and these can be accessed via our staff wellbeing page. Colleagues affected by the situation in Israel and Gaza can also access confidential independent advice, information and support from the Employee Assistance Programme provided by Spectrum.Life – including access to highly qualified counsellors by phone, WhatsApp, live chat and SMS, or you can request a call back 24/7, 365 days a year.
Alternatively, you may find it helpful to visit our Chaplaincy service based in the Meeting House, where Chaplains representing a wide variety of religious and nonreligious perspectives are available. You can also contact our Lead Chaplain, James Croft, for an appointment by emailing J.F.Croft@sussex.ac.uk.