Women are now reaching out to talk about sexual harassment and abuse in different industries. These stories are of great concern and urge us to take action. We have no reason to believe that universities are spared from this.
Presumably, a high number of cases remains unreported. We are aware that there may be students and employees who choose not to inform us when misuse of powers occurs. The responsibility shall never be imposed on the person who has been victim of harassment. We, as managers in academia, have the responsibility to listen to those who come forward to report, and to take their stories and experiences seriously. We also have the responsibility to work preventively to ensure that our students and employees are not exposed to sexual harassment and abuse within the university. We will do this by supporting and defending a good psychosocial work and student environment, clarifying the responsibilities of the managers, elucidating where to turn in case of harassment, offensive conduct, or discrimination, and implementing well-functioning procedures for reported cases. It is our duty to support the vulnerable and to conduct investigations when allegations are made.
The Faculty of Medicine's strategic plan states that "There is a zero tolerance policy towards victimisation and discrimination. Respect, openness and consideration are always to apply in encounters between staff, students and our cooperation partners." We are aware that we are not there yet. Adopting this vision requires constant work and attention, and it must be borne in mind and prioritised to a much greater extent. We need to do more.
Here you can find information about where to turn to if you have been subjected to harassment, discrimination, or offensive conduct:
Read more in the debate article (in Swedish) by Helene Hellmark Knutsson, Minister of Education and Research, Charlotta Tjärdahl, Chair of The Swedish National Union of Students (SFS), and Mats Ericson, Chair of the Swedish Association of University Teachers and Researchers (SULF), published in UNT: Vi kräver förändring - Sexuella trakasserier vid Sveriges högskolor och universitet är fullkomligt oacceptabelt
Gunilla Westergren-Thorsson, Dean