President's Corner is a regular column from President Deep Saini.
Dear Dalhousie Community,
It is disappointing to be writing this as we face another lockdown across the province. Despite our collective hard work for more than a year, it is now again necessary to sacrifice in order to combat the spread of COVID-19. We are back to a place we had hoped never again to be. This said, it is also precisely the time when we once again must muster the optimism that has served us so well in the past.
I recognize the immense pressure the recent spike in cases and resulting public health restrictions are putting on our students, faculty, staff, and the surrounding community. I am especially conscious of the increased burden on parents who are balancing their work obligations with childcare responsibilities.
In my February 25 column, I stressed the need to continue to be kind and patient with one another as we all cope with the stress and complications that the pandemic has added to our personal lives and to remember the impact that a prolonged virtual work environment is having on our people. This message certainly bears repeating now.
It is within this context that the events of this past weekend are so deeply disturbing to me. As our Provost and Vice-President Academic Frank Harvey shared with our community in a memo on Tuesday, Dalhousie students were among those fined in relation to an off-campus gathering that did not adhere to public health protocols. As Dr. Harvey shared, there is a process to address serious violations such as these, and that process is underway. While I cannot share more than this about individual cases out of respect for privacy, please know that the university is taking this situation extremely seriously, and we steadfastly condemn this behaviour.
I greatly admire our student body, the vast majority of whom are conscientiously adhering to public health guidelines, and in many cases even going above and beyond – for example, volunteering – to help the province fight COVID-19.
To the students, faculty, staff and community members who have reached out to share their concern about this past weekend’s events, please know that I hear you, I share your significant frustration, and wholeheartedly agree that the behaviour, judgement and reactions demonstrated were inexcusable.
Our students go on to be leaders around the world. It is critical that they learn early that individual actions have consequences. And right now especially, we have a communal obligation to keep one another safe.
As we once again buckle down to protect everyone, we continue to be here to support our people, without whom nothing we do would be possible. But we also recognize the toll that these ongoing challenges are taking on our collective morale. On Wednesday, I shared an invitation to faculty and staff for our next Community Check-In coming up on Tuesday, May 4. If you are able, please join us. We will share what we can about our continuing planning for the fall term, returning to campus, and more, in this evolving situation.