Following receipt of the Reindorf Report, Senate and Council agreed 16 actions which are being taken forward, I want to update you on progress and let you know how you can get involved.
The Report makes clear that we have made serious mistakes and we need to do our very best to learn from these and to ensure they are not repeated. It notes the particular responsibility placed on universities to protect freedom of speech within the law, and to ensure that a diversity of voices and views can be heard on our campuses. In his blog the Vice-Chancellor noted that we must re-commit to providing a supportive and inclusive environment within which people can expect to learn, grow and develop through challenge.
As a community this means that we may encounter ideas or arguments which may be experienced as objectionable or offensive; with a line drawn at conduct which is unlawful. On behalf of the University, the Vice-Chancellor has made an open apology to staff and students regarding the procedural and other failings that have occurred in relation to the two events covered in the Reindorf Report, and for any distress caused. The Vice-Chancellor has made open apologies to Professor Phoenix and to Professor Freedman; and an apology to the University’s trans and non-binary community.
An implementation steering group chaired by the Registrar and Secretary has been established to oversee progress in relation to each of the actions arising from the Reindorf Review and agreed by Senate and Council. As we take forward these actions, we want to provide as many opportunities as possible for our community to engage and to work with us in revising a wide range of our policies and procedures.
The Reindorf Review urged the University to repair relationships between University members, in a context of the University’s duty to pay due regard to the need to foster good relations between people with particular protected characteristics and others.
We want to consult as widely as possible with individual members of the University, staff and student groups, and the Students’ Union. From 16 July, Moodle will provide a key resource for us, hosting consultations and providing a place where colleagues can read about the latest work (through a University of Essex log-in). We have also put together a dedicated web page where again you’ll be able to read more about the planned actions, the progress being made and how you can contribute.
We want everyone in our community to feel that they can get involved, offer their views and help shape the work that is underway. Throughout the consultation period, the senior leadership team will be available to meet with staff and students to provide another route/opportunity of gathering feedback. University members can contribute in a strictly confidential manner or anonymously. If you have any questions about the Reindorf Review and associated actions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Senate and Council will consider revisions to the University’s policy and procedures on 8 September and 22 September respectively to ensure that any changes that need to be made are in place in advance of the start of the Autumn term.
I know that the Reindorf Report and Senate and Council’s agreed actions raise very challenging issues and, as we address these, it remains very important that we treat everyone in our community with dignity and respect.