Published: 7 March 2022 at 10:52
Our whole community is deeply affected by the terrible events unfolding in Ukraine, and our hearts go out to all those caught up in the appalling violence.
We unequivocally condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the terrible suffering being inflicted on the Ukrainian people. We are in close contact with all of our students from Ukraine and are offering full support and guidance, including financial support for those in hardship. Support is also on offer to student and staff members who are from, or have family and friends in Ukraine, Russia and the wider region – for all of whom this is likely to be a very difficult time.
We have a number of longstanding links with Ukraine and will do everything possible to offer support to our Ukrainian colleagues and their students caught up in the suffering, whether remotely or by supporting displaced academics who are able to reach the UK. We have joined the Council for At-Risk Academics (CARA) and will be working with them to identify opportunities to host at-risk academics at ARU.
One of our longstanding International Community Experience (ICE) volunteering projects for students, staff and alumni was working with the local community based at the Chernihiv Medical Centre – in a city now suffering terribly under indiscriminate shelling. This centre provides complex medical and social rehabilitation following the impact of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster. On behalf of ICE, we are donating funds from this project to support the Ukrainian community in response to the current situation.
We do not hold any investments in, nor have current contracts with Russian companies, and are looking where possible to sever commercial ties with any businesses that trade in Russia. In line with the Universities UK statement of 3 March, we will review all current and planned academic activities involving Russian partners, and make decisions on a case-by-case basis, informed both by UK Government guidance and our own due diligence.
At the same time, we have an absolute responsibility to protect and care for our current students and staff from Russia, many of whom will be greatly distressed by the actions of their Government, and the international condemnation. We must not tolerate any form of harassment or hate speech, and must instead ensure that for them, as for all of us, ARU is genuinely a safe and inclusive community.
There will be more that we can, and should do: to provide support to those most affected, both within our own community and within Ukraine; to support the international effort to stop the war; to promote the values of peaceful, intercultural communication; and to celebrate the rich culture and identity of the Ukrainian people. Please share your ideas and, as ever, contact me directly if you’d like to.
Above all, let’s all remain alert to the profoundly distressing effect these events are having on those around us. Our care for our students and each other and our determination to uphold our values are outstanding, and will guide us through this difficult time.
Professor Roderick Watkins