2020-Our Darkest Time

Our Darkest Time: Lamentable loss of life

Wed, 03 Jun 2020 14:15:00 BST

A message from Professor Pamela Gillies, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of Glasgow Caledonian University:

One of the world’s most inspiring politicians, Robert F. Kennedy, made a stunning observation in 1968...

“Too often we honour swagger and bluster and the wielders of force; too often we excuse those who are willing to build their own lives on the shattered dreams of others.  Some who accuse others of inciting riots, have, by their own conduct invited them.” RFK, April 5th

This observation is as pertinent today as it was fifty-two years ago.

In the wake of the killing of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis on 25th May, events of protest, hurt and dismay at this killing have increasingly gained momentum and echoed around the world.

The #BlackLivesMatter movement and its voice reverberates with special power at this point in history as we all continue to struggle with the frightening COVID-19 pandemic.  This infectious virus is having a devastating impact upon the world’s population, wreaking particular havoc on the lives and livelihoods of the most vulnerable, the poorest, the most elderly in our societies and, in particular, those members of our black and ethnic minority communities.

At Glasgow Caledonian University, we recognised Blackout Tuesday with sadness in our hearts. But we did so with a strong sense of purpose, to work to redouble our efforts through research and education to ameliorate poverty and reduce all inequalities across our societies.

We also, however, remain vigilant within our University, holding true to our values and constantly interrogating how we live our values to expose our own blind spots and biases from issues such as gender inequalities to racism.

The work of Robert F Kennedy continues to this day in the RFK Human Rights organisations in the US and UK, led by his redoubtable daughter, Dr Kerry Kennedy. We are proud indeed to include Kerry amongst our Honorary Graduates and as a dear friend to the institution. Her organisations, like ours, are determined to condemn racism, poverty, inequality, injustice and violence and to speak truth to power.

To create a more socially and racially just world as we emerge from the COVID-19 global pandemic will require determination and behove all of society's great institutions to pay attention to its impact, to listen to the communities we serve and to act.

Glasgow Caledonian University remains resolutely committed to employing our research and education to promote social justice and reduce inequalities in society.  We also aim to continue to speak truth to power from a strong, values-led evidence base.  It is our responsibility as a University for the Common Good to do so.