Welcome to a new term at the University of Niceness. You may notice a few new things about the place, starting with our name.
Our new name reflects a period of extensive consultation with our Executive Council, our Public Relations department, and a range of external consultancies. We also acknowledge feedback from students and academic staff, much of which we considered.
Our new brand identity reflects our conviction that niceness has to be front and centre of everything we do.
Some in the past have argued that niceness is only one value among others. That niceness isn’t always the appropriate response, even if it might sometimes be. Or even that there are different notions of niceness, and that we need to allow individuals to be free to debate what genuinely constitutes niceness in different situations.
And so it is that we’ve finally arrived, after decades of prioritizing ‘knowledge for its own sake’ and ‘objective truth’ (neither of which things, it turns out, are consistently nice) at our true and sole purpose as an institution. This is of course the crowning moment of our Campaign against Hurt and Dismay, which has been running for a decade now.
A quick update on that.
As some of you might recall, in the opening year of the campaign we made the brave decision to close the Department of Religious Studies because of the offence that some of their content had caused.
The following year, after extensive consultations, we were forced to shut our School of Biology, after concerns raised by several of our on-campus religious communities about their first-year course on evolution.
And three years ago, we decided that the Faculty of Humanities could no longer continue in its existing form because of repeated complaints about the content it exposed students to, from its first-year course on ancient warfare to the now-notorious Shakespeare paper.
But we press on, with our five Offices for Niceness and our two surviving academic faculties.
Oh, and finally – I know that many of you were looking forward to hearing Professor Parrhesia speak later this month, but we were compelled to cancel this event after complaints from three very angry members of our community.
We are, after all, the University of Niceness.