Staff news

Statement from the Principal: forthcoming events on campus

A statement from Principal and Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Mathieson on forthcoming events on campus.

A lot of discussion has taken place in recent days about an event to launch the book ‘Sex and Gender: a contemporary reader’, on our campus this week. This book is an academic publication by a reputable publisher and the event will be an academic discussion of the ideas presented in the book.

A separate event is taking place on the same evening, also supported by the University, to discuss the representation of transgender rights in the media.

These events have raised strong and differing feelings within our community. We fully recognise our legal and moral responsibility to protect members of our community and ensure that no one who studies in, works in or visits our University is subject to discrimination or victimisation.

We must balance this responsibility with the role of a university to support freedom of speech by ensuring that debates that help shape our society can take place in a respectful and tolerant manner.

We remain steadfast in our commitment to freedom of speech and we have procedures in place to support members of our community to host events on controversial topics with the safety of everyone on our campus as an absolute priority.

While we are committed to freedom of speech, we will not tolerate discriminatory or disruptive behaviour. We firmly uphold the right of people to take part in peaceful and lawful protest, but we will not tolerate obstructive protest or protest that does not abide by our Dignity and Respect policy.  

At any event hosted by the University, we expect everyone within our community to exercise their rights to freedom of expression lawfully and for debate to be conducted in a respectful manner, including recognising where their comments or behaviour may be harmful or upsetting to others and acting accordingly.

I want to remind everyone that discriminatory behaviour and language, abuse, incitement or harassment has no place in our community and will never be tolerated. The Respect at Edinburgh hub provides further information on our Dignity and Respect policy, how to raise concerns and what support is available.

Respect at Edinburgh

It is my sincere hope that by hosting events such as these, challenging topics can be explored with civility and intellectual rigour. It is only then that we can demonstrate that freedom of speech can be achieved while upholding our commitment to promote an inclusive culture that celebrates difference, challenges prejudice and ensures fairness.

Professor Peter Mathieson, Principal and Vice-Chancellor, The University of Edinburgh