Friday, October 19, 2007

Newcastle University Stands Up and Speaks Out

Wednesday's Stand Up and Speak Out event at Newcastle University was organised by the Students' Union and attracted about 200 supporters. Katy Whitehouse acted as MC for the event and Nicola Martin led the crowd in 'speaking out' for each of the Millennium Development goals in turn.

The new Vice-Chancellor, Professor Chris Brink, attended the event and expressed his personal and the university's support and appreciation. He recounted the proverb, "No one can sleep soundly when his neighbour is hungry", because he is vulnerable to his neighbour's anger. He then developed the idea by saying that "No one SHOULD sleep soundly when his neighbour is hungry", because he has a moral responsibility to relieve the situation if he can.

(l to r: David Golding, Nicola Martin, Prof. Brink)

David Golding told the story first publicised in Jubilee 2000's 'Debt Cutters Handbook' of a Zambian mother forced to choose which of her two sons should receive simple medicine (the other she watched die) and contrasted it with the present situation, where basic medical care is available in rural areas as a result of debt relief. Speaking for everyone in the crowd, he spoke also of his anger that, after 10 years of campaigning, the poorest countries are still paying $100 million per day as a result of inherited debt.

Later nearly 150 students (plus a certain jubilee veteran!) gathered at the Millennium Bridge across the River Tyne, which by joining hands they spanned completely. "I was immensely heartened by their warmth and commitment", David Golding said.

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