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Rector Lafuente encourages the university community to show their commitment to the Catalan language

27 Sep 2022
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In an institutional event which took place at the Rectorat building, Rector Javier Lafuente inaugurated this new 2022/23 academic year by welcoming students and highlighting the efforts made "by all those who make it possible" for the UAB to shape "citizens with a critical spirit and social commitment". This year's campaign "No em toquis la llengua" [Don't Mess With My Language] is dedicated to the Catalan language and Rector Lafuente invited all members of the university community to tak part and "not forget the commitment of defending this language". The academic year officially kicked off with a speech by writer Màrius Serra, who spoke on the "pendular nature of the debates on language, culture and politics in this country".

Màrius Serra a l'acte d'inauguració del curs 2022-2023

The title of the inaugural speech itself contained a palindrome ("Català a l'atac") which aimed to imitate the pendular movement Serra described when reviewing the different periods in recent decades in which the Catalan language has expanded or retracted depending on the evolution of ICTs and the media. According to him, the pendulum is currently "completely retracting" because "the technological advances have allowed us to transition from written to oral" after having experienced "an attack" with the explosion of the internet, where there is a preponderance of written texts.

Serra referred to Catalan in the higher education context to say that "any university in the world can offer education in more than one language, knowing that each branch may have languages more commonly used, but it is obvious that the most commonly used language in Catalan universities should be Catalan". He went on to dedicate the last part of his speech to reflecting on the relation between the language and being Catalan. According to him, "speaking in Catalan holds an implicit message of wanting to form part of being Catalan, `part of a cultural community living permanently in full swing".

Rejuvenation and Stabilisation Plan

In his speech, the rector went over a few of the more outstanding aspects of university activities taking place. He congratulated the members in charge of renewing the UAB's involvement in the ECIU University for four more years, as well as the increase in places available in Nursing and the inauguration of the UAB – IR Sant Pau Joint Research Unit in Genomic Medicine. He also announced that the UAB "will implement a plan to rejuvenate its staff and put an end to the precariousness with a progressive increase in permanent teaching staff positions in the following years". According to Rector Lafuente, the policies aimed at recovering and rejuvenating staff members are "one of the main priorities of the governing team", and he alerted that "the lack of generational renewal would put our current positioning in danger".

Rector Lafuente spoke about the current context marking the new academic year and highlighted the consequences of the Ukranian conflict, which in addition to "the humanitarian drama and disaster represented by the loss of human lives", affected the cost of raw materials and the supply of energy: "we must be very aware of the effects this crisis will have on the University's budget and of the fact that we must improve our management system to reduce energy consumption and the environmental impact our activities may have", the rector declared. These are situations he considers "need immediate solutions". Rector Lafuente expressed his desire that both Spanish and Catalan laws, such as the soon to be passed university law, also include the "resources necessary" so that universities can complete their missions adequately.

Other institutional speeches were made by UAB Social Council President Gabriel Masfurroll, and General Director for Universities Victòria Girona. Masfurroll, who will soon end his second and final mandate, spoke on his eight years presiding the Social Council and emphasised that in order to be able to overcome future challenges, one must work with "firm ethical values" and a "creative mentality", as well as "count on efforts and resources". Victòria Girona congratulated the UAB for how it handled the cyber attack which took place almost a year ago, and praised the impact the University has on the surrounding areas. She also announced that this year the Catalan Ministry for Research and Universities is working on "three lines" it aims to strengthen: funding for university infrastructures, resources for knowledge transfer and generational renewal.

Secretary General Esther Zapater also presented the Memory of the 2021/22 academic year, in which the UAB "recovered its normality and classroom-based activities", and affirmed that "working and studying on campus enriches us and helps us advance as individuals and as an institution". The UAB Chamber Choir performed Bacil and Musclo, songs from Pere Quart's Bestiari and music by Manuel Oltra; El cant dels ocells, by Pau Casals, Sr. Sant Jordi, by Salvador Espriu and Francesc Vila, and the traditional university hymn, Gaudeamus igitur.

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