Malmö University 20 years – celebrate with us

Utskrift från Malmö universitets webbplats www.mah.se

Equal treatment of students

All students at Malmö University should have the same rights and opportunities regardless of gender, gender identity or expression, ethnicity, religion or other beliefs, sexual orientation, disability and age. The university has a policy of equal treatment of students and conducts an active and targeted role to promote students' equality and to prevent harassment.

Victimisation and harassment associated with any discrimination or sexual harassment are considered completely unacceptable. Therefore, the university is to act as soon as it becomes aware that someone is exposed to such actions.

Download the policy 

On this page you will find the following information:

Victimisation

The Swedish National Board of Occupational Safety and Health define victimisation as:

Recurrent reprehensible or distinctly negative actions which are directed against individual employees in an offensive manner and can result in those employees being placed outside the workplace community (AFS 1993:17).’ 

This may involve downgrading behaviour from a teacher or a fellow student; it may involve targeted insults, whether those insults are conscious or unconscious. It can also cover withholding information, slanderous or pure intimidation and persecution.

Individuals and groups can be affected negatively in both the short and long term. The victim may suffer from reduced self-esteem and discomfort and suffer mental and/or physical problems. 

Harassment 

The Swedish Discrimination Act defined harassment as:

Conduct that violates a person’s dignity, and that is associated with one of the grounds of discrimination sex, transgender identity or expression, ethnicity, religion or other belief, disability, sexual orientation or age (SFS 2008:567).’ 

Examples of harassment may receive derogatory, ridiculing or generalising comments. That includes text, images and gestures that allude to any of the grounds of discrimination. It is the victim who decides what is perceived as offensive. An act can thus be considered offensive by one person but not by another.

The person who is harassing must also be made aware that the behaviour is unwanted and offensive. It is, therefore, important that anyone who feels offended says so or expresses it. Sometimes it may be obvious that the person who subjected someone to harassment should have understood it, and then a clarification is not required.

Harassment is particularly serious when a person in a superior position, such as a teacher, supervisor or examiner harasses someone dependent, such as a student.

Sexual harassment

Sexual harassment is defined in The Discrimination Act as a conduct of a sexual nature that violates someone's dignity.

Both males and females can both expose and be exposed to sexual harassment. Examples of sexual harassment can be unwanted suggestions, unwanted touching, gazing, language that is sexually alluring and experienced as offensive. It is the victim who decides what is perceived as offensive. An act can thus be considered offensive by one person but not by another.

The person who is harassing must also be made aware that the behaviour is unwanted and offensive. It is, therefore, important that anyone who feels offended says so or expresses it. Sometimes it may be obvious that the person who subjected someone to sexual harassment should have understood it, and then a clarification is not required.

Sexual harassment is particularly serious when a person in a superior position, such as a teacher, supervisor or examiner sexually harasses someone dependent, such as a student.

What to do if you are exposed to harassment

  • Inform an employee of the university and have the harassment investigated.  It is also possible to make a formal complaint directly to our responsible investigative attorney, Hans Jonsson, at Malmö University. It is important to solve the situation as soon as possible.
  • Notify the person who exposes you to victimisation, harassment or sexual harassment that you feel offended and you want it to stop. You can also ask someone you trust to talk to the person who exposes you to harassment.
  • Take notes on the time, the place and what happened, what was said and how you experienced it. Make a record of anyone who might have witnessed the harassment.
  • Tell someone you trust what happened, so that you can avoid carrying the experience alone.  

Advice and support if you have been a subject of harassment

Anyone who has been exposed and has made or will make a formal complaint can contact the Student Union or the Student Health Service for support. Our Student Health Service treats all appointments confidentially.

Those who want advice and support without making a formal complaint (and thereby start an investigation) can turn to the Student Health Service and the Student Union, as they are exempt from the duty to investigate.

Malmö University’s obligation to investigate harassment and sexual harassment

All employees at the university has an obligation to act and investigate the circumstances as soon as they receive information about, or recognise that a student may have been subjected to harassment or abuse. Please note that the Student Health Service and Student Counselling are exempt from this obligation due to the confidential nature of their services.

The university is therefore obliged to undertake an investigation, even in cases where the suspicion of harassment or violations is based solely on rumour, anonymous statements or other circumstances. The same requirements also apply to clients, internships and equivalent.

It is the victim who decides what is perceived as offensive. If the university neglects to act in a suspected case of harassment or abuse, it may be held liable. It is, therefore, the university’s responsibility to have a system that as efficiently as possible captures the cases of harassment and abuses that may occur at the university. 

Reporting harassment

Trivial conflicts should, if possible, be handled as easily and smoothly as possible in close contact with the people concerned. It is then assumed that the conflict has an immediate and, by all concerned, fully acceptable resolution. If not, a formal complaint should be made to determine if there are grounds for further investigation.

When the investigation manager at the university is informed that a student may have been harassed they should make an assessment of the information. The assessment aims to ascertain whether an investigation is necessary.

If the investigation manager assesses that a formal investigation should be initiated, the case is presented to a special expert group. This group, which has advisory tasks, includes the head of the secretariat, a lawyer from the secretariat and a student representative. Formal decisions regarding the investigation are made by the head of the secretariat after representation from the lawyer.

Decisions that can be made could either be that the matter should be considered closed or be a stance to what measures should be taken to prevent further violations. If the investigation concludes that the person who has acted offensively may be subject to legal action, the matter is handed over for processing. In some cases, the resulting measures has to be taken up by the relevant dean, department head or vice-chancellor, for instance, if proposals arise that affects the university’s equality plans.

Contact

For additional information, contact Hans Jonsson, university lawyer and investigation manager of the Expert Group.

Last updated by Amanda Malmquist