VC states Charlie Hebdo Symposium could go ahead in email to staff

By Kylie Noble


The Gown has learnt that Vice-Chancellor Patrick Johnston may allow the called off conference “Understanding Charlie: New perspectives on contemporary citizenship after Charlie Hebdo” to go ahead.

On Monday it emerged across various media outlets that the conference set for June had been cancelled.

The following email was circulated to QUB staff today:

“Dear Colleague,

As you are probably aware, there has been media coverage this week in relation to the ‘Understanding Charlie’ Symposium scheduled to take place in June.

I thought it was therefore important to communicate directly with you on this matter, to both clarify and correct some of the inaccurate comments and reports.

Earlier this week a funding application to support the Symposium was submitted. This application was declined on the basis of the absence of a complete risk assessment. Unfortunately this was not how the decision was reported more widely.

In line with due process, the University has now commissioned a full risk assessment of the Symposium. The assessment is expected to be completed by next Friday and will inform the University’s decision about whether the Symposium should go ahead.

Queen’s University has a proud tradition of discussing difficult and cutting-edge issues and while I am Vice-Chancellor this will continue. However, in engaging with such issues, we must ensure a safe and secure environment for all our staff, students and visitors.

As an academic and Vice-Chancellor of this institution, I am completely committed to academic freedom and free speech. These freedoms are the bedrocks for academic institutions and society.

Queen’s is and will remain a place where ideas can be freely exchanged and discussed.

Professor Patrick G Johnston
President and Vice-Chancellor”

Patrick Johnston
Patrick Johnston

Published by The Gown Queen's University Belfast

The Gown has provided respected, quality and independent student journalism from Queen's University, Belfast since its 1955 foundation, by Dr. Richard Herman. Having had an illustrious line of journalists and writers for almost 70 years, that proud history is extremely important to us. The Gown is consistent in its quest to seek and develop the talents of aspiring student writers.

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