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Award winning author Ali Smith provides inspirational words to Sussex students

University of Sussex honorary graduate, the author Ali Smith, gave a stirring speech at the University’s graduation ceremony on Friday (27 January), receiving a standing ovation. Her words encouraged the new graduates to “go out into the post-truth world and make it be true”.

The University awards honorary degrees to people who have achieved excellence in their field - as well as those who have played an important public role contributing to the development of, progress of or change in society. 

We wanted to share her words with others in our community who may have missed her speech, as it’s a poignant reminder of the role of universities in encouraging students to find their voice now and in the future. 

In referring to the University of Sussex, Ali Smith said:

“It was and still is a place of healthy and courageous arguing-back, often with and within its own institution, a place that celebrates thoughtful and vociferous engagement, and fierce and energetic protest.

"I’ve always associated Sussex with a uniting of intellectual progress and fruitful dissent, like I associate this city, the city of Brighton, brilliant jostling, salty and sharp, with an inclusiveness and a live-and-let-live-ness as wide as the sea it opens to, with its sense of European neighbourliness, its ability somehow to make even its ragged starlings into post-avian near-supernatural formers of shapeshift in its sky ...

"We’re going to need our educational institutions, like Sussex, to be adaptable, and articulate and fierce, and above all creative, playful, when it comes to withstanding, with any intact humanity or humanities, the pressure they’re already under.

"Now, please, go out into the post-truth world and make it be true. Take with you the edge you walked, the edge you honed here, all the bright dissent, all the vociferousness, all the shapeshift, all the argument and wakefulness, all the critical vigilance, all the sharpness you’ve got. You will. I trust you will. You’re post-Sussex.”

By: Patrick Reed
Last updated: Tuesday, 31 January 2017