Universiteit Leiden

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End of year message from the Executive Board for staff and students

With the holidays just around the corner in this dark month of December, when we light candles as a symbol of warmth and hope, we would like to take a moment to reflect on this past year. We have accomplished a great deal together but the year has been difficult at times.

So much is going on in the world: wars, people displaced, injustice, the climate crisis and its effects, and much more. There is great human suffering and that deeply affects us all – you, our students and staff, and of course us, the Executive Board.

This also provokes existential questions. What does this mean for us? What is our role here as a university? What is our responsibility in this polarising society? How can we contribute with our knowledge, research and teaching? Added to this, each of us has our own emotions and opinions about all that is going on.

We need to keep talking to each other, now more than ever. Yes, we have a lot of knowledge here at our university and can provide society with explanations and context − and sometimes solutions − but this does not remove the emotion. Talking to each other, despite our differences, takes the edge off. It helps us understand each other. And it is in this contact with others that the seed of conflict resolution lies.

This is also at the heart of our core values: connecting, innovative, responsible and free. So more than anything let’s continue to seek this connection and be free yet responsible and respectful of others. Let’s continue to cherish the many treasures of our university. For these are what justify our academic freedom.

To do this well, we have to be an inclusive community where everyone feels at home and can contribute, regardless of their nationality, background or orientation. This has to be a place where we feel free and safe to be ourselves and to express our opinions in a way that is respectful to others. We realise that this is not always easy and that it asks a lot of us, especially in difficult times. Yet we see many great examples of valuable encounters and conversations. So now just before the holiday let us reflect on this together and focus on that which unites us.

We are ending the year 2023 with a great sense of pride, pride in our wonderful university and all the fantastic work everyone has achieved together this year. This gives us great confidence in the future. And it couldn’t have been achieved without you, our students and staff. We want to express our thanks and appreciation for all you have done this past year.

Season’s greetings and a very happy and healthy 2024!

Annetje Ottow, Hester Bijl and Martijn Ridderbos
Executive Board

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