See our news stories for culture, equality and inclusion at Sussex.
David Ruebain: Inclusive Sussex update
Posted on behalf of: Internal Communications
Last updated: Friday, 22 September 2023
On Thursday 21 September, David Ruebain, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Culture, Equality & Inclusion) emailed all staff. You can read the message below:
In our first update of the new academic year, I’d like to talk about:
- Freedom of speech work
- The Open Listening Programme
- Checking your equalities data on MyView
- September is World Funfair Month
- Inclusive Sussex: In Conversation event, 18 October
- Celebrating Black History Month
- The Coast is Queer Festival, 12–15 October
- Ethical procurement
- New Chair of Athena Swan Self-Assessment Team announced
Freedom of speech work
As you may know, last year I took on a new role of Free Speech Officer as part of my portfolio of responsibilities. For Sussex and indeed all universities, freedom of speech and academic freedom are not only legal and regulatory obligations - enhanced by the recently enacted Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Act - but also foundational requirements to ensure and facilitate an environment that enables a diversity of viewpoint and perspective that are central to critical inquiry, education and research. We have undertaken a variety of initiatives in that regard, including reviews of our policies and guidance and provision of information, blogs, webinars, videos and presentations, both in the University and more broadly.
But the parameters of free speech are not always clear or straightforward, especially when they engage the equally important issues of equality and inclusion. Opening up conversations around these issues is vital and I will be delivering a lecture at King’s College London on 2 October as part of a series: ‘Free Speech: Where Do You Draw the Line?’. I also plan to deliver the lecture here at Sussex for our University community. This will be open to all, and more details will follow soon.
The Open Listening Programme
Our pilot Open Listening Programme aims to facilitate working effectively with conflict and help build stronger relationships based on respecting and valuing differences. Pilot sessions earlier this year were received positively and we will be extending the pilot programme more widely across the University community. Further sessions will be set up in the autumn for a number of management teams and the Students' Union. We will also have sessions during November which will be open to all staff, and further information will be shared shortly about how to get involved.
Checking your equalities data on MyView
Please can I ask that you take a couple of minutes to check and update your equalities data on MyView by Friday 27 September? Equalities data helps us to monitor diversity at the University and so inform the improvement of policies, practices and initiatives. We have updated the MyView system following changes to the data that the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) collects from the University. You can check and update your information under ‘My Equality Data’, which is in the ‘My Personal Details’ section on MyView.
September is World Funfair Month
As part of our commitment to The Pledge, which supports the Gypsy, Traveller, Roma, Showmen, and Boater (GTRSB) community, we celebrate September as World Funfair Month. During the month, Showmen celebrate their culture to raise awareness and foster positive representation of their community. Find out more about World Funfair Month.
Inclusive Sussex: In Conversation event, 18 October
I am delighted to invite you to our third Inclusive Sussex: In Conversation event featuring Lela Kogbara and Jane Farrell, who will be discussing inclusive leadership. Lela has years of experience of bringing together individuals, local communities and organisations to address the structural barriers that prevent Black people from thriving. Jane is a specialist in inclusive leadership, unconscious bias, organisational change and cultural adaptability. Taking place on campus on Wednesday 18 October from 5.30pm to 7pm, the event will also feature a panel of Sussex staff including Dr Benjamin Everly and Dr Zahira Jeser, both senior lecturers at University of Sussex Business School. You can book your place now, I look forward to seeing you there.
Celebrating Black History Month
During October, there will be a programme of events on and off campus to celebrate and acknowledge Black history and the Black experience, including a poetry workshop and film screenings (more on those below). The Black History Month flag will be flying above Sussex House throughout the month.
- The Power of Poetry and Living Libraries for Decolonial Dialogue
The Library is hosting what promises to be an engaging event exploring the transformative power of poetry on Thursday 28 September from 5pm-7pm. Supported by Research Libraries UK and the Black at Sussex programme, the event will feature award-winning poet Jenny Mitchell and multi-modal artist Erin James, with Dr Alice Corble facilitating the discussion. Find out more and register.
- Screening of the Film Rafiki
This year’s Black History Month theme is ‘Saluting our Sisters’ and the University will be screening Rafiki on 18 October from 12 noon – 2.30pm. Rafiki is the story of romance between two young women in Kenya. Fortuitously, the screening is also only a week after National Coming Out Day on 11 October. Book your place.
The Coast is Queer Festival, 12-15 October
The University is once again supporting The Coast is Queer, Brighton’s annual festival of LGBTQ+ writing to be held at the Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts from 12-15 October. The festival aims to celebrate LGBTQ+ literature, creating a space for queer readers, writers and allies to come together in a celebration of the written word. University of Sussex staff and students have helped shape the festival and curate the programme, and you can read more and register for events.
At Sussex, we have sought to ensure an ethical approach to procurement. Particularly in light of recent developments to our approach, we believe that the University is leading the way in this area within the higher education sector. Read more about our ethical procurement approach and how it drives our decision making.
New Chair of Athena Swan SAT announced
The Athena Swan Self-Assessment Team (SAT) monitors the implementation of the Athena Swan action plan and University-level submissions, supporting the aim of advancing the careers of women in higher education and research. I am very pleased to announce that Sarah Guthrie (Professor of Developmental Neuroscience and previously Head of the School of Life Sciences) has agreed to be the new Chair of the institutional Athena Swan SAT.
With good wishes,
Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Culture, Equality and Inclusion)
- Bi Visibility Day - 23 September: The Bi flag will be flown at Sussex House to mark the day.
- National Inclusion Week 25 September–1 October: This year’s theme is 'Take Action Make Impact’ and you can read more about the action we are taking at Sussex to develop an inclusive workplace.