Regardless of conflict in the world, Lund University is to be a safe haven. Lund University stands up for the equal value of everyone and has a place for students and staff members, regardless of ethnicity or religion or other belief. We have a zero-tolerance policy towards threats or harassment on campus.
This is the University’s statement on the issue of Israel and Gaza.
This is also how, in my capacity as Vice-Chancellor, I answer those who turn to the University with what I understand to be fear, concern, anger or frustration about what has happened in Israel and Gaza after the Hamas attacks against civilian targets in Israel on 7 October and which has led to an escalation of violence and the loss of thousands of civilian lives. The unbearable images are there for all to see and there are many of us who would like to know how to support those affected and their families and friends in the best possible way.
Some people would like the University to express itself more clearly on the issue of the situation in Israel and Gaza beyond what is included in our statement. However, I want to put across that the University is primarily a place for research and education. The University’s principal task and responsibility are to try to understand and explain various developments in the world or at home in a scientifically sound and knowledge-based way. We can do this in several ways. Researchers and teaching staff at Lund University – experts in their fields – are conducting fantastic work regarding this intensifying conflict. Here, for example, is a compilation of the Centre for Advanced Middle Eastern Studies’ media interviews and articles on the Israel-Hamas war. An important contribution!
Conflicts such as the one we are seeing now require knowledge, reflection and analysis – rare commodities in today’s fast-moving media landscape, which puts a premium on getting instant statements and/or condemnations. In all wars and conflicts, it is very difficult to verify facts, and disinformation is widespread. I see this as one more reason for a university to be cautious about making early, assertive statements, and instead allow researchers to have the prominent role in understanding and explaining.
The University is also responsible for ensuring a good work environment that is safe and secure for all staff members and students on campus. Here, it is ultimately my responsibility, as Vice-Chancellor, to ensure that there is sufficient support and resources at the faculties to manage the safety and wellbeing of students and staff members.
Let me make it clear that the University, as a public authority or institution, does not organise demonstrations regarding this issue. On the other hand, freedom of speech and expression is extensive in Sweden, and students and staff members have considerable freedom to think and express opinions at their place of study or work. The University has no concerns regarding students or staff members exercising constitutional and civil freedoms and rights to organise in the way one wishes in order to make their voice heard in society. Indeed, in a democratic society in which human freedoms and rights are cornerstones, this is something that we must safeguard and protect.
The Vice-Chancellor Blog (in Swedish).
This text is included in LU News 19-2023