Over recent weeks we have seen a torrent of #metoo-related petitions from groups of mainly women providing frightening narratives of an expression of power that manifests itself in sexual harassment and assault. At Örebro University, there should be no room for such expressions of power to occur. And yet, we know that it does. Our University is also part of the culture that has provided scope for these unsettling expressions of power.
Academia has its own order in which academic hierarchies intersect with the organisation in what are often impenetrable structures. Combined with the great freedom provided by academia, this may sometimes have adverse consequences for individuals, especially for those in positions of dependency.
The University is a major employer, host to thousands of staff and students. Employee and student satisfaction surveys indicate that individuals at our higher education institution have been subjected to sexual harassment. The formal complaints we have received and handled have, however, been significantly fewer than the number of people indicating, when given the opportunity to answer anonymously, that they have been victims of such harassment.
Many have said that they did not think filing a complaint would have any real effect or they thought that what happened was not that big a deal. The reports in the #metoo petitions show that it is a big deal. To bring about change, all of us must now also take this seriously.
If you yourself is a victim or you hear of someone else having been subjected to discrimination or victimisation, and a complaint is filed at the University, we have an obligation to investigate the complaint. This also applies to sexual harassment, which is a form of victimisation.
There shall be no discrimination or victimisation at Örebro University, regardless of what form it takes. Whether it is an expression of power from one person to another of the same, or other, gender identity, or from one person to another in the same, or other, position in the academic or other hierarchy. Our environment shall be characterised by openness, trust and respect.
Advice and a checklist for students and staff can be found under news in Studentforum, on Blackboard and on Inforum.
Johan Schnürer, Vice-Chancellor, Örebro University
Anna-Karin Andershed, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Örebro University
Louise Pålsson, University Director, Örebro University
Alexander Duarte Tsegai, President, Örebro Student Union
Linnéa Eriksson, Vice President/Student Welfare Officer, Örebro Student Union
Jens Ekengren, Chair, Saco-S, Örebro University
Odd Johansson, Chair, SEKO, Örebro University
Martin Larsson, Chair, ST/OFR-S, Örebro University
Madeleine Holsmyr, Principal Health and Safety Representative, Örebro University