Sussex creates new executive level Freedom of Speech responsibility
Posted on behalf of: Internal Communications
Last updated: Wednesday, 25 January 2023
As part of his leadership role as Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Culture, Equality and Inclusion, Professor David Ruebain will hold executive level responsibility for freedom of speech at the University of Sussex.
Professor Ruebain will be undertaking this new role as part of his current portfolio, which includes leading on culture, equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI), and driving forward our ambitious Inclusive Sussex programme. Sussex is one of the first universities to create this role at executive level. As part of his portfolio, David will provide oversight and support to embed and enhance freedom of speech across the University.
Vice-Chancellor Sasha Roseneil said: “My ambition is for Sussex to be a university community in which everyone feels that they are in the best place to realise their goals and ambitions, where they can be themselves, and do their best work, and in which diversity of background, identity, belief, thought, discipline, and method is understood to be foundational to our sense of community, and to our success. Enhancing both lawful free speech and equality, diversity and inclusion at Sussex are core to this ambition, as David’s appointment to this role illustrates.”
The University is fully committed to principles of academic freedom and freedom of speech and expression, which are protected in law and are fundamental to the University’s values. This is set out in the University’s Charter and Statutes and further details can also be found here:
Academic freedom and freedom of speech
David Ruebain said: “Lawful free speech has sometimes been characterised as being in tension with equality, diversity, and inclusion (EDI). There are nuanced issues to consider – the boundary between what is lawful but sometimes challenging speech and what is unlawful speech or constitutes harassment or bullying is not always clear. And yet freedom of speech and EDI are essential to ensure a rich, diverse, rigorous, collegiate, inclusive and inquisitive learning and research environment. Universities are places of debate and challenge, the practice of which is at the heart of knowledge creation and advancement, in which everyone in the Sussex community must have the opportunity to be involved. Incorporating free speech into my portfolio reflects the important interconnection between upholding free speech alongside our commitment to advance our institutional values of equality and inclusion for all.”
Further information and support related to academic freedom and freedom of speech and advice on external speakers can be accessed below:
The formal routes to raise a concern about freedom of speech are:
- The Report & Support tool
- The Dignity & Respect Champions
- Grievance Procedure (for staff)
- Complaints procedure (for students)