We are used to media stories of students calling for universities to act against many ‘isms’ and phobias, and often the line between their own thoughts and beliefs, and those of academic/activists is hard to discern. So it is especially heartening to see that so many Oxford students have spoken out against their institutions silence over the recent Islamist attacks in France, and of the murder of Samuel Paty in particular. In doing so they show they are independent thinkers, more alive to the humanist ethical principles of universities than those holding institutional power. Bravo – to both the students and Lars Larundson at The Critic for publishing the letter:
Even among these acts, the murder of Samuel Paty stands as a particular warning to students, teachers, and scholars; it is a direct threat towards those of us who would carry out our mission to transmit knowledge and to uphold freedom of speech. The silence of the foreign universities in response is deeply troubling. We look up to our University as a place that stands up not only for its own members and defends their rights and welfare, but also one that supports the rights of the academic community altogether. Given its tradition of free inquiry and global reputation, the University of Oxford has a wider duty towards those learning, teaching, and researching, wherever they are.