VC's update - Reflections on a tough few days

22 Sep 2023

Dear All

This been one of our toughest weeks at ANU. It's also been a week where we've seen the very best of our community. 

Let me call out the incredible courage of members of staff and students actions in the face of danger. We've seen astonishing professionalism, commitment and collegiality as we've worked to support each other. 

 And we've seen extraordinary resilience. I had the opportunity to visit one of the students (who was well enough to see me) in hospital, and had a good conversation with both families. They are all doing remarkably well given the situation - and I think we've all been collectively buoyed by our wounded students' small steps towards recovery.

Some things were necessarily paused this week as we took time and energy to respond and reflect. If impacted students need more time and consideration to complete their assessments, they can ask for it. We'll keep our drop in hub open for alternate days next week to make that easier and make wellbeing advice available for students and staff. Our annual giving day would normally have been yesterday. It just didn't feel right to do it so close to Monday's events, so our advancement team will revisit this in the coming weeks. 

There will be many questions asked about the awful events of this week. I am encouraged that the ACT Government has committed to review how this individual was able to do what he did. I will advocate for ANU to ensure both our students' and staff's voices are heard. 

Like many of us I take great pleasure, solace and energy from the peace and solitude our beautiful campus offers. I have pushed myself to reconnect with it in the last few days even when my instinct was to retreat. This campus is ours and it is the nation's. It should never be a fortress, gated against the community in which we reside. This campus has always been a place where people from all sorts of backgrounds can come to learn, to feel safe and to respectfully exchange ideas. 

Despite the horrors of this week, It is still that place.

May everyone enjoy a peaceful weekend


Professor Brian P. Schmidt AC FAA FRS