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Our commitment to inclusivity reinforced through #NeverOK

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Dear colleagues,

This week sees the re-launch of #NeverOK, our joint campaign with RUSU to highlight our values of respect, tolerance and inclusivity. A continuing commitment to diversity is a core part of our new emerging strategy, and it must form the bedrock of our University community. The importance of this was highlighted again last week with the release of the Equality and Human Rights Commission report on racial harassment in higher education,

In the run-up to launching this campaign 12 months ago, we have updated our policy, procedures, support and reporting routes for both students and colleagues who have experienced behaviours that contradict our values, including bullying, harassment or discrimination. This must be an ongoing process so that we reflect the latest information and best practice. While I hope you will never need it, it is important for you to know how to access this help. Rest assured that where this is evidence of this behaviour, we will take appropriate action.

At times in the past year, I have been asked how our commitment to #NeverOK sits alongside our commitment to academic freedom and freedom expression and whether the two are ever at odds. I would like to take this opportunity to reiterate that freedom of speech, debate and academic freedom lie at the very heart of university life. A critical part of the university experience is learning how to form and defend an argument. We all have issues we feel passionately about and we may express those feelings in strong terms. But this can never be at the expense of our shared commitment to tolerance and diversity. However important the issue and whatever the strength of our convictions, bullying and harassment have absolutely no place in our community. That is completely non-negotiable, whatever the issue or the circumstance and whether it is in person or online, and we will take prompt and appropriate disciplinary action if this occurs.

With this in mind, I would like to draw your attention to a short new video, providing an overview of the campaign and how students and colleagues can find out more and get involved. If you are a manager, please consider showing this video at the start of any forthcoming team meetings, to reiterate your support for the campaign and help ensure all colleagues know how to access the support available if needed. Likewise, if you work in a student-facing role, consider playing the video at the start of teaching or other appropriate sessions to help spread the word.

Further information for colleagues is available on our Staff Portal, with additional information for students on Essentials.

Our strong, supportive community is part of our identity here at Reading. I look forward to continuing to work with you to support #NeverOK and to defend these important principles here at the University of Reading.

Best wishes,

Robert

Robert Van de Noort

Vice-Chancellor

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