Sandi Toksvig hosts her last Chancellor's Dinner
Whilst simultaneously watching the 10 o’clock news coverage on the Yorkshire Ripper and debating the death penalty with her father, Baroness Shami Chakrabarti CBE told students and alumni at the Chancellor’s Dinner this was the moment she discovered her passion to protect human rights.
Baroness Shami Chakrabarti CBE was the guest of the University of Portsmouth Chancellor Sandi Toksvig at the formal black tie event attended by 350 current and former students, city-wide friends and University Staff.
The evening began with guests enjoying drinks and canapés with live background music in the form of a jazz band and were treated to the symphonic sounds of the Messiah choir before making their way to the main hall. Dinner was then served and with the drinks and conversation flowing, Sandi took her place on stage to firstly present the Chancellor’s Cup. Awarded to the Students’ Union’s cheerleading club for being the most inclusive of all students clubs and societies throughout the previous year, president Whitley Walters received the award from Sandi on the club's behalf.
The Chancellor’s Cup, and the Chancellor’s Dinner itself, are just a few of the legacies Sandi will be leaving behind when she retires from her position as the Chancellor of the University of Portsmouth this summer. Before inviting Shami to the stage for her final conversation, Sandi spoke highly of her time as Chancellor and announced that Karen Blackett OBE will be continuing with this wonderful event, instigated by Sandi, when she takes over as Chancellor of the University.
Sandi then welcomed onto stage her friend and British Labour Party politician Shami and with a few humorous quips the conversation began.
Baroness Chakrabarti, before becoming a British Labour Party Politician and a member of the House of Lords, was the director of Liberty until 2016, an advocacy group which promotes civil liberties and human rights. In 2011 it was announced that she was one of the panel members of the Leveson Inquiry, a judicial inquiry into phone hacking in the UK and is also currently Chancellor of the University of Essex.
Shami spoke spiritedly about what she believes to be the biggest injustice in the world: “The greatest injustice on the planet is gender injustice. It’s not injustice for women, but for men too. It’s about all those young men who feel suicidal in their teens and their 20s and all those boys who feel pressured to be macho. It’s an enormous injustice that there are two halves of the species who treat each other so differently.” She also delved briefly into the online presence of bullying and cyber-crime, stating: “If it is criminal in the real world, it should be criminal online.”
Sandi asked if she was given the chance to change one law over anything what would it be, in which Shami responded passionately: “There would be so many laws I would change, but I am extremely concerned about the homelessness crisis our country is facing.”
Vice-Chancellor Professor Graham Galbraith said: “The annual Chancellor’s Dinner is always an excellent evening, which gives people a renewed pride in the University. I am very grateful to Sandi for inaugurating such a marvellous event.”
With a huge round of applause for Sandi’s final appearance at the event and her guest Shami, who provided the guests with many thought-provoking moments to take away, the evening came to a close.
Photographs from the evening can be viewed on the University's Facebook page.