Update on conflict in Gaza and Israel

Friday 20 October 2023

White and black hands make a heart with a beach in the background

In a joint email to all staff and students this week (Thursday 19 October) on the conflict in Gaza and Israel, University of St Andrews Principal, Professor Dame Sally Mapstone, and President of the Students’ Association, Barry Will, said:

Dear Students and Colleagues,

We are writing to you jointly as leaders of our communities to set out the shared position of the University of St Andrews and the University of St Andrews Students’ Association on the conflict in Israel and the Palestinian territory of Gaza.

As leaders, our job is to listen to, consider, and reflect the views of everyone we represent, in the actions we take, and the words we speak.

We know that St Andrews, like so many other communities across the world, is distressed, and in parts deeply divided, following last week’s terrorist attacks on civilians by Hamas, and by the loss of civilian lives as a result of military action by the state of Israel in Gaza.

Our priority is to ensure that this University remains a safe and supportive environment for all our students and staff, and to signal very clearly that there is no place here for antisemitism or Islamophobia.

We acknowledge that this conflict is causing deep hurt to Palestinians, Israelis, Jews and Muslims, people who are our classmates, friends, teachers, colleagues and, for some, family.

Our shared values are more critical than ever at times like this; St Andrews abhors terrorism, we abhor war crimes, we abhor all violence against innocent civilians, we will take no side but the side of humanity, and we wish for, and will do everything in our power to support, dialogue for peace, a humanitarian corridor out of Gaza, and an end to hostilities.

Universities, however, must continue to be places where the most difficult issues can be discussed and debated, within the law. Hamas is designated as a proscribed terrorist organisation in UK law, and therefore signalling support, including moral support or expressing an opinion or belief that is supportive of Hamas, is a criminal offence in the UK, as outlined in the Terrorism Act (2000).

The road to peace and dialogue demands that truths can be spoken, facts contested, opposing points of view accommodated, and tolerance and respect shown for the feelings of all in our community.

We will continue to have open dialogue with groups across our community, to support and encourage free expression within the law, and in ways which we hope will reflect our shared values.

Even when members of our community are deeply hurt and in disagreement on politics, it is important that we find ways to unite in respect for the sanctity of human life, to mourn the loss of civilians, and to work together for dialogue and peace.

Hate and Discriminatory Language

There have been troubling rises in antisemitism and Islamophobia across the UK in recent weeks, and we will not tolerate this anywhere in St Andrews.

Our town is a place of unity, inclusivity, and respect for all cultures and beliefs. We are dedicated to upholding these values and ensuring that every individual feels safe and respected.

If you experience discriminatory language or hate in any form, or if you see it anywhere, please report it to the University by contacting Report and Support.

Through collective effort, we can ensure everyone in St Andrews feels at home here.

Professor Dame Sally Mapstone FRSE

Principal and Vice-Chancellor

Barry Will

President, University of St Andrews’ Students’ Association

Contents of a joint email to all staff and students sent on Thursday 19 October from University of St Andrews Principal, Professor Dame Sally Mapstone, and President of the Students’ Association, Barry Will.

Posted by the University Communications Office.

Category Message from the Principal

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