Sexual harassment has been much discussed in Finland in the recent weeks, and now also related to Åbo Akademi University (ÅAU). The Student Union of ÅAU (ÅAS) is concerned that the decision made in the current case, and the way in which the case has been communicated, creates a feeling of insecurity among our members. The actions taken gives the impression that it is not worth reporting situations where you have been mistreated. Reporting harassment and inappropriate treatment must always feel safe and as something worth doing.
We demand more from Åbo Akademi University. We want ÅAU to not just on paper and in fine words, to enable an everyday life where everyone feels safe and where you can trust that every case of reported harassment is taken seriously and handled correctly. It is also extremely important that you know what happens after a report is done, who handles the investigation and what the measures will be.
ÅAU has chosen to interpret that the harassment in question does not require measures, as it took place outside the staff’s working hours. We at ÅAS are worried about what signal this gives to students. Would ÅAU also choose not to do anything in a situation where unreasonable treatment takes place between staff and students at an event in the evening? ÅAS believes that clear rules and an open discussion are required on how such situations are handled. It is valuable that students and staff, for example, can have a Christmas party together, this kind of community should not be lost.
ÅAS has two harassment contact persons who support in situations where you feel unreasonably treated. Everything a student tells the harassment contact persons is confidential, and it is up to the students who contact them to decide what type of help they need to resolve the situation. ÅAS has two contact persons at all events, you can notify them, also anonymously, if you feel uncomfortable with something in the events or with another participant’s behavior.
ÅAS continuously educates the associations in how to counteract harassment and resolve conflicts. ÅAS’s support material, for example a student life guide, helps the associations to make the activities as inclusive and welcoming as possible. ÅAS does not accept any forms of unfair treatment, harassment or discrimination. It is important for ÅAS that everyone feels comfortable at our, and the associations’ events. It should also feel safe for everyone to study and work at ÅAU. ÅAS demands that ÅAU now takes the students’ concerns seriously and communicates clearly before the start of the semester what rules apply, and how reported situations are investigated.