March 14, 2022
Good morning everyone,
There are arguably only two forces at play in this world – love and fear. When terrible events take centre stage, the balance can tip in favour of fear and the world can feel unstable, unwelcoming, even ugly. It is essential that we keep our eyes open and acknowledge the fear, but it is equally important that we remember love, and that in our own actions, we try to respond from love rather than react out of fear.
The latest manifestation of fear is the reprehensible and atrocious invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces. The Carleton community stands in solidarity with the victims of this attack, those who have lost their lives, their loved ones or their homes. We support the broad array of international calls for the invasion to end and hope for the rapid return of peace.
Our community was proactive in reaching out to all of our international students from Ukraine or Russia – approximately 40 students – to offer any support they may need. Like all of you, I feel deeply for our colleagues and students with ties to Ukraine. I also feel for those in our community with ties to Russia, who find themselves in a difficult situation not of their own making. As always in these situations, I ask everyone to remain respectful and collegial, and to find compassion within ourselves in all our interactions on this difficult issue.
Carleton has long been a leader in welcoming scholars at risk and we are working to welcome Ukrainian researchers to our campus. In the same vein, we are already planning to facilitate the coming of refugees from the war zone to Carleton for the next academic year. Additionally, Carleton International has gathered resources to help everyone in our community to make informed decisions on how to best offer support to Ukraine in the ongoing conflict.
Over the past two years, the COVID-19 pandemic has been the main driver of fear and of its habitual sidekicks: anger and division. Our community has been truly remarkable in its ability to adapt with flexibility and compassion. I am as always extremely thankful for everything we have achieved together and for the way we have collectively resisted fear. As we move into the next phase of this worldwide challenge, with governments rapidly lifting health measures in Ontario and elsewhere, I am confident we will continue to adapt and support each other.
We have already announced our plans for the end of the winter term and at this time we are not planning to modify them in any significant way. Notably, in line with the Ontario university sector we are maintaining our vaccine mandate and masking policy until at least the end of the winter 2022 term. We ask for your patience as we consult with public health experts, the Council of Ontario Universities (COU) and partner institutions on the path forward for the summer term. Uncertainty is a driver of fear and I wish we were able to announce a full plan today but unfortunately, given the rapidly changing context, it will take a few weeks to come to these difficult decisions.
It is unavoidable that there will be diverging views about the timing of the lifting of various safety measures. We all recently witnessed, in downtown Ottawa, that these diverging views can manifest themselves in deeply divisive ways. As always, we will take a safe and gradual approach that prioritizes the health and safety of our community. At the same time, as the world moves on, we will coordinate our efforts to remain in sync with the broader society.
I continue to be inspired by the compassion and care of our community since the beginning of this seemingly interminable pandemic. Notwithstanding COVID-19, our journey continues towards being an ever fairer, more sustainable and more compassionate community. I was especially pleased to see over the past few weeks a wonderful series of events for Black History Month, our 3rd annual Kinàmàgawin symposium, and celebrations of International Women’s Day. The university also announced important updates to our responsible investment policies that align with Carleton’s commitment to meet the challenge of climate change and strive towards creating a more sustainable economy. Every step we take on this journey makes our campus and our world a little bit better and I am thankful for all your efforts.
I wish you all the very best as we start Ontario schools’ winter break, in the hope that you can enjoy some quality time with your loved ones. And in only a few short weeks, we will reach the end of our winter term and get a chance to catch our breath.
Take care everyone and have a great day,
President and Vice-Chancellor