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Message from SOAS Lay Trustees - 22nd April 2016

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  1. To: All staff and students at SOAS
  2. From: SOAS Lay Trustees
  3.  
  4. Dear SOAS Colleagues
  5.  
  6. We write to you today first and foremost as friends of SOAS, whose affinity with the institution manifests itself in many ways, including as lay trustees of the institution. We are a diverse collective of individuals who each give up their time for an institution we love and respect, and we acknowledge that at the absolute heart of this is SOAS’s vibrant and active student community. But over the past few weeks, we have become increasingly worried about some of the behaviour we have seen on campus, and feel compelled to write to you.
  7.  
  8. Earlier today, the SOAS Board of Trustees noted the harassment of individuals and potentially criminal activity that has taken place recently at SOAS, and it robustly asserted that this is unacceptable in a place of higher education learning, and that the School should do everything in its power to ensure the safety of staff and students, and to ensure a safe space for all. This has been compromised to dangerous levels, and we refer to the following acts:
  9. -        Setting off smoke grenades in the entrance to the main building
  10.  
  11. -        Repeated spraying of graffiti across the School and in adjacent outdoor spaces
  12.  
  13. -        Attempts to break down the door of the Directorate Office with a fire extinguisher, and entrapping management and administrative staff
  14.  
  15. -        Smashing of glass windows
  16.  
  17. -        Throwing of paint bombs
  18.  
  19. -        Setting off fire extinguishers inside buildings
  20.  
  21. -        The existence of a ‘hit list’ that targets individual staff members
  22.  
  23. Many of us remember being at SOAS in various guises. We have studied at SOAS. We have worked at SOAS. We have friends and family at SOAS to this day. So we know first-hand the important role of debate and discussion at this university. But we also know that equally important to a robust discussion is dialogue, and in particular the ability to disagree. We are truly saddened therefore to see the recent behaviour that has really gone against these SOAS ideals, and which is casting a bad light on the whole of the SOAS community.
  24.  
  25. SOAS, like many other institutions in higher education at the moment, is at a critical yet exciting moment in its history. We have a challenging local landscape that is demanding change, but we are also celebrating one hundred years of being at the forefront of global discourses. We live in a time when SOAS’s curriculum offer, its culture, and indeed its graduates are most needed in the world. We want SOAS to embody the world we all want to live in, and we hope you will join us in trying to achieve this.
  26.  
  27. Yours sincerely
  28.  
  29. Kofi Adjepong-Boateng
  30. Tamsyn Barton
  31. Gautam Dalal
  32. Martin Harris
  33. Rosna Mortuza
  34. Andrew Popham
  35. David Skinner
  36. Steve Tinton
  37. Nizam Uddin
  38. Michael Williams
  39. Lay Trustees present on 22 April 2016
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