Student and Staff Wellbeing

Message of support from VC (3.2)

Message of support from Vice-Chancellor (3.2.20)

The Vice-Chancellor, Professor Chris Day has written to the University community to reinforce the importance of our inclusive ethos in light of coronavirus.

Dear Newcastle University community

I would normally address my messages to students and colleagues separately, but today I am writing to everyone who makes up our University community to reinforce the importance of our inclusive ethos.

The growing levels of anxiety about the spread of the Coronavirus is giving rise to some behaviours that are unhelpful, and in some cases, deeply shocking.

Can I please ask you to take a minute to consider the impact that the current situation is likely to be having on those who have travelled back to Newcastle from China in recent weeks and find themselves in the middle of this situation that is completely outside their control? This is a particularly difficult time for them and no doubt many of them will also be worrying about family and friends who are still in China.

It is also essential that we come together to support our Chinese colleagues and students during this distressing time.

In the words of Professor Brian Schmidt, Vice-Chancellor and President of the Australian National University: 'viruses don't discriminate. And neither do we.'

It is vital that we find the right balance between efficiency in terms of taking every precaution to halt the spread of the virus and concern for the emotional wellbeing of the people and students we work alongside on a daily basis.

I have been appalled by some alarming reports on social media of racial incidents within the city aimed at our students. The city council and partners across the city are stepping up their response to this and anyone who experiences any kind of discriminatory behaviour should report it to the Police. If you encounter harassment yourself or even witness it you can also report it by contacting casework@ncl.ac.uk.

As a University be assured that we have a team managing the situation and taking the appropriate actions to keep you all as safe as we can. They will continue to provide information about how we can all sensibly protect ourselves. Our Student Health and Wellbeing team is doing an excellent job in terms of offering support and answering all queries, but please can you help us by being empathetic and kind to those who need your support most at this time.

Finally, can I ask that we all keep some perspective? We have only two identified cases of the Coronavirus in the UK and the level of threat to individuals has not increased - only the Government's preparedness.

And we are fortunate that our neighbours in the RVI have the leading experts who are providing the excellent treatment for the two people identified with the virus. Our thoughts are with those patients at this time.

We are one University and one community and when things are difficult this is when we most need to come together to support each other.

Best wishes,

Professor Chris Day

Vice-Chancellor and President, Newcastle University