There are times when we need to remember that our University is not just a campus, it is not a list of degree programmes, it is not just your class, your lecturers or your year group - UL is first and foremost a community of people, a dedicated group of ambitious teachers, learners and researchers. And you come from every walk of life. All 16,500 of you.
Let me be clear. University of Limerick categorically condemns any act of racism or minority discrimination that takes place on or off campus, and as a UL student so should you. Details of recent incidents reported by a number of international PhD students are hugely distressing and are being fully investigated. Not all incidents reported were carried out by UL students or involve the UL campus but I passionately believe that every student of this University should feel supported by their fellow students and that they are part of a welcoming community.
As such I want to remind you now - a university is a place where young people are positively influenced to be civic minded, collaborative, global citizens ready to positively engage and contribute. As students you have joined the UL community from a huge variety of backgrounds and orientations and you have the opportunity to graduate not only well educated in your chosen discipline but also in your world view.
On behalf of every single member of your student community, it is up to you not to tolerate any act of racism or minority discrimination that you may witness. We are currently developing ways to streamline the reporting processes for UL students to make it easier and quicker. UL Student Life and the Post Graduate Students Union are also always available to you, should you wish to report an incident.
In respect of the incidents which have been reported in the last number of weeks, we have taken immediate action to safeguard against any further incidents of discrimination including increasing security, increased access to student supports (i.e. counselling), direct engagement by myself in addressing the affected students and the development of a community wide communications campaign to educate students in the coming year.
We are also developing anti-racism training that will be added to the student orientation programme and which will make it very clear to all incoming students that any kind of discriminatory behaviour will not be tolerated and there will be academic consequences for this type of behaviour.
UL was one of the first universities of sanctuary in Ireland and is very proud of the programme, which has enhanced the campus and student population immensely. We have just appointed Dr Marie Connolly as Director of Human Rights Equality, Diversity & Inclusion at UL to ensure those values are at the core of everything we do. Dr Connolly and your student leaders have their own message to share also here.
We are so proud of you – our learners, who choose to study on our magnificent campus, which is truly the envy of other institutions at home and abroad. UL and Limerick have a tradition of being a welcoming place and we want to make sure that all are welcome here. These are strange times that we live in and we hope to see a more normal return to educational life next semester – but you owe it to your fellow students, your fellow human beings, to protect our community at all times.
Professor Nigel Healey,
Interim Provost and Deputy President
/ Vice President Global and Community Engagement
Race and Minority Forum - Expression of Interest FormRace and Minority Forum