Below is an excerpt from a March 25, 2021 letter to staff from Ghent University Rector Rik Van de Walle. Ghent is in Belgium where the population is very dense and where Brussels serves as “the crossroads of Europe.” COVID rates are high. Lockdowns are strict. Vaccines are slow. People are in despair. Here is a leader’s appeal to his colleagues. Bold added by Craig.
With this message, I would like to draw your attention to the impact we all feel, as Ghent University staff and as humans in general. In the current circumstances, it is far from self-evident to always find the right balance: between teaching and research tasks, between teleworkable and non-teleworkable tasks, between work and private life, between caring for others and caring for yourself.
Therefore, I would like to ask you again and explicitly to show the necessary mildness in the coming weeks. Be mild in judging your colleagues and be mild in judging yourself. Expectations and goals cannot be as high as in normal circumstances. Evaluate the impact of the corona crisis on your tasks with your colleagues and your supervisor(s), whether your tasks are teleworkable and on the work planning and allocation of tasks within the team. Adjust expectations and agreements together as needed.
Also be aware that while the corona crisis affects everyone, some are affected (much) harder than others, for reasons that can be both work-related and personal. Inequality and unequal opportunities for further development therefore threaten to increase further. We must remain alert for this and try to prevent such very harmful side effects of the corona crisis, also when tasks or people are being evaluated.
Hence this plea: let us help each other and remain very close to each other, figuratively speaking, in the context of our university activities and beyond. Keep talking to each other. Please do not let this conversation, even from a distance, fall silent.
– Rik Van de Walle, Rector, Ghent University, Belgium