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6 May 2024

Charles University statement about protests

Prague, 6. 5. 2024

Dear colleagues and students,

On behalf of the management of Charles University and the management of the faculties concerned, we felt it was important to provide clarity on a number of recent issues, for example, how we at Charles University ensure the safety of all our members, how we honour the freedom of expression and respect the right to free expression of opinion.

We work hard to ensure that, in light of all global conflicts, Charles University always lives up to its core mission and societal role, which is providing a scholarly and inspiring university environment. At the same time, we maintain our unwavering approach to freedom of expression on campus.

Part of our commitment is also to enable and strive to ensure that all students and all staff have access to and move about university buildings without obstruction, harassment, threat or discrimination. We will continue to strive to provide a safe environment for every individual member of our campus community. We continue to encourage anyone who encounters discrimination or other inappropriate behavior to report it to their faculty ombuds or the contact persons who communicate with the CU Ombuds or directly to the CU Ombuds.

Last week, an unannounced protest took place outside the Faculty of Humanities building. Charles University supports legitimate forms of protest framed by the laws of the Czech Republic, but not activism that can harm our ability to fulfil our academic mission and cause people in our community to feel bullied, threatened, or fearful. The University has an approved safety plan for instances where the situation could potentially exceed reasonable limits. We also remind readers and members of the school and community that security measures remain heightened on CU premises following the tragic event last December at the Faculty of Arts.

Charles University is an institution that provides and consistently defends open communication and dialogue for all members of its academic community, regardless of their origin, nationality, religion or political beliefs. We are proud that our ranks include experts on global geopolitical events, often even originating from areas currently affected by conflict, be it Ukraine or the Middle East. They articulate the plurality of opinions at Charles University and point out the complexity of the situation. One of them, for example, is the award-winning academic Dr Irena Kalhousová from the Faculty of Social Sciences of Charles University. We also appreciate her open approach to academically and professionally balanced debate.

At the same time, we also believe in our ability to unite and seek common ground, with the contribution of all of us: each of us has a voice. We would like to ask you to work together: let us reduce tensions, maintain a safe environment in university and faculty buildings, respect each other, listen to each other, and discuss within the framework of academic rules.

Of course, Charles University is aware of the suffering in the Middle East and is not indifferent to the tragic fate of civilians in this region. However, as an academic institution, it is not and cannot be a political actor entering into the solution of the geopolitical situation. We hope that all parties involved in the conflict will do their utmost to find a peaceful solution.

Although individual members of the Charles University academic community may hold different views on this conflict, our primary obligation is to protect all of our members and to maintain a safe environment for teaching and scholarship.

We urge our community to continue to uphold this social and academic commitment, and we thank you for doing so.

Charles University management

Prague, 6 May 2024

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