University of Limerick, its staff and students, believe in gender equality and want to stop discrimination. It is a core UL value. UL has earned a leadership role amongst the other Irish universities in the promotion of women in academia, in encouraging female students to enter science and engineering, in embracing the Athena Swan principles and in insuring gender balance in our governance and senior management. These practical steps will allow the university to realise the value of all of staff and students and create a university where everyone is free to achieve their ambitions. However, we have a way to go and we need to be resilient in implementing the pathway to true gender equality.
Part of leading the promotion of such a value is being willing to speak out when there is any question of it being undermined. Recent comments on internal channels gave rise to concerns both within and without the university that this commitment to promoting gender equality can be denigrated and in some way eroded. Let me be very clear, I will not accommodate statements that undermine our commitment to being a place of learning that actively promotes equality of gender and diversity. There should be no equivocation on this point – as a university we are committed to actively promoting and accommodating equality. We do this when each of us speaks up and speaks out when these values are challenged or trivialised. We do this when we act swiftly to respond to such challenges, as the university did on this occasion.
Each and every one of us must strive every day to ensure that the University of Limerick campus is an environment in which every staff member and student can work and study without facing discrimination. We will strongly challenge such behaviour, or indeed any discriminatory incidents on campus, by UL staff or by UL students. Far from discriminating against it, our university embraces diversity.
Let us work together to ensure equality for all members of our campus community and to be clear in our unambiguous commitment to the advancement of gender equality and diversity.
Dr Des Fitzgerald, UL President