Equal treatment of students
All students at Stockholm University are entitled to equal treatment and respect irrespective of sex, transgender identity or expression, ethnicity, religion or other belief, disability, sexual orientation or age.
Coordinator for equal treatment of students
As a student you can contact the coordinator for equal treatment should you have any concerns regarding these matters. The coordinator is based at Student Services in Studenthuset and their assignment/mandate is based on the Swedish Discrimination Act of 2008. Questions regarding work environment and victimisation should be handled by the Department.
The Swedish Discrimination Act
The Discrimination Act prohibits discriminatory practices in a broad range of social and economic activities. There are sections of the act that are directly applicable to education, students and applicants.
The Discrimination Act promotes equal rights and combats discrimination in higher education on grounds of gender, transgender identity or expression, ethnicity, religion or other beliefs, disability, sexual orientation and age. The Discrimination Act also covers sexual harassment.
The Discrimination Act applies to harassment of students by University employees and of students by other students. Harassment may involve anything from unwelcome remarks and verbal abuse to serious assaults. Harassment of any kind, based on any ground of discrimination or of a sexual nature, is unacceptable and is not tolerated at Stockholm University.
Should you feel that you have been subjected to harassment, contact someone at your department that you can confide in, or the Coordinator for Equal Treatment of Students at Stockholm University who can carry out an investigation.
Which forms of harassment are covered by the Discrimination Act?
The harassment must have occurred in conjunction with studies in order for the law to be applicable and for the university’s investigation obligation to apply.
The Discrimination Act applies if you feel you have been subjected to ill treatment on one or more of the following grounds and has occurred in conjunction with your studies:
Ethnic identity: You belong to a group of people with the same national or ethnic origins
- Disability: You have permanent physical or mental disability, either congenital or which as a result of an injury, has arisen or can be expected to arise
- Gender: Because of your gender identity, also including transgender identities
- Transgender identity or appearance: Either through your clothes or general appearance, you do not identify yourself as belonging to the gender you were born with
- Religion: You practice a certain religion or faith
- Sexual orientation: You are homosexual, bisexual, asexual, or of another sexual orientation
- Age: Because of how old you are
- Sexual harassment: Harassment of a sexual nature, e.g. inappropriate solicitations of a sexual nature, inappropriate physical contact, inappropriate remarks about your physique or appearance, or similar.
If you have been subjected to harassment, it is important that you tell someone in order for measures to be taken. Appropriate people to contact in cases of harassment or discrimination are the head of department, the director of studies at your department, the university’s Coordinator for Equal Treatment, or someone at the university you trust.
If you have been harassed
Below you will find useful measures you can take if you have been subjected to harassment.
1. Tell someone if you think their behaviour is inappropriate
Tell the person that you feel that their behaviour is inappropriate. You could say something along the lines of “Stop! I don’t like you doing/saying that.” If you do not wish to talk to the person you experience is harassing you, you can write a letter or an email (remember to save copies). You can also ask someone else to talk to your harasser, such as the head of department, a teacher or someone else whom you have confidence in.
2. Tell someone about the harassment
Contact your head of department, director of studies or another employee at the department whom you have confidence in. If you are not comfortable about talking to someone at the department, you can turn to the university’s Coordinator for Equal Treatment. If the insults are related to a disability, you are also welcome to turn to the Service for students with disabilities.
3. Keep a journal of all the harassments and save copies of all correspondence
If you write down the chain of the events, you can give a clear picture of your experience of the harassment. Otherwise, the events may get confused, making it difficult to remember exactly where and when they occurred. Your notes may also be source document for an investigation according to the law of equal treatment of students or for a police report. The same applies to all letters, emails, texts and other correspondence with the person who you experienced has harassed you.
4. Harassment that includes threats or stalking
If the harassment takes the form of stalking or you feel as if your personal safety is under threat, you should contact the Security Unit at the university. They can perform a risk analysis, help you file a police report and provide you with some advice and protection in the event of threats or other vulnerable situations. The Security Unit can also be reached by phone at: 16 22 16 (on-call); in an emergency: 16 42 00 (security company).
5. Support from the Stockholm Student Health Unit
Being exposed to harassment may entail great psychological strain. The Stockholm Student Health Unit provides counselling which can be booked during their telephone hours found at: www.studenthalsanistockholm.se
6. The student union can help you
The student union can give you advice and support during an investigation. Student Union representatives can also file reports to the university on cases of harassment or maladministration at a department or unit. In the student union, there are also other associations that can offer you support such as Gaystudenterna (gay students association), Jämlikhetsnätverket (equal treatment network) and more. Visit the Stockholm University student union’s website: www.sus.su.se or call its reception at: 674 62 00.
7. Support via helplines
You can also get support from various non-profit or municipal helplines.
- Kvinnofridslinjen (national helpline for women): www.kvinnofridslinjen.se
- Alla kvinnors hus (helpline for women): www.allakvinnorshus.org
- Manscentrum (crisis centre for men): www.manscentrum.se
- RFSL Stockholm (the Swedish federation for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights: counsellor, crime victim hotline and more: www.rfsl.se/stockholm
- ROKS (the national organisation for women’s and young women's shelters in Sweden: www.roks.se
- Unizon (the Swedish association of women’s shelters and young women’s empowerment centres: unizon.se/english
- Terrafem (centre for women suffering abuse from men): www.terrafem.org
The City of Stockholm has compiled a section containing details about more support and crisis helplines, including contact details to Kriscentrum för kvinnor (crisis centre for women) with support and crisis helplines: http://www.stockholm.se/FamiljOmsorg/Stod--och-krisjourer/
Investigation according to the Discrimination Act
According to the Discrimination Act, the university is obliged to investigate cases of harassment or sexual harassment reported to one of the representatives of the university. The investigation is carried out centrally by the university's Coordinator for Equal Treatment of Students. The responsibility for the investigation applies both if you feel offended by an employee or another student. At Stockholm University, we investigate according to the same procedures when a student or applicant experiences a form of discrimination other than harassment. An investigation is conducted as follows:
In order to make a report, it is sufficient that you tell a representative of the university that the harassment, in your opinion, is covered by the Discrimination Act and was connected with your studies here at the university. To communicate your experience of the harassment as clearly as possible, write down what happened and state how the harassment was consistent with the definition in the Discrimination Act (as in, which form of harassment). You can also get help from the Student Union with writing the report.
The investigation will be conducted by the Coordinator for Equal Treatment. The person in charge will keep you and other involved parties informed about the progress of the investigation and the university’s decision. Normally, the people who are reported for harassment are contacted so they can give their version of the events. This can take the form of an interview or as a written statement. The investigation shall be factual and objective.
The person in charge should listen to your requests about how to handle the case and which steps are to be taken, if any. You can also contact the Student Union since they can provide support during the investigation. The student representatives can also accompany you to eventual meetings. You can request the investigation to be stopped at any time. The university will not investigate cases of harassment against the victim’s will if it causes them further personal humiliation or disomfort. If the investigation is stopped, the university shall nevertheless take steps to prevent the harassment from continuing, although the possibilities for taking steps will be limited if not based on the event in question.
The investigation shall result in a decision in which the university concludes whether or not the matter is harassment in accordance to the law. It is important to remember that the university takes your experience of being harassed takes seriously, even if the incident turns out to be within the boundaries of the law.
The investigation can take a long time if, for example, the person in charge needs to obtain additional statements from other people or units. As cases of harassment often entail a deep personal humiliation, you are advised to contact the Stockholm Student Health Unit for support while the investigation is in progress and, if necessary, for a period thereafter. You can also ask for support from the department during the investigation period and meet the director of studies, study guidance counsellor or other appropriate person on a regular basis.
3. Conclusion and follow-up
If an investigation concludes that there has been no harassment in a legal sense, you will be notified thereof in writing. If you are dissatisfied with the investigation or university’s decision, you can contact the Discrimination Ombudsman (DO). DO is both a supervisory authority for equal treatment issues and an instance where you can refer a case of discrimination to the district court.
If the investigation concludes that harassment has occurred/is occurring, steps need to be taken to bring it to an end. You will receive written notification about the decision and which steps have or will be taken. The university may take disciplinary measures such as suspension from studies at the university if the harasser is another student. The Disciplinary Council will handle this. If the harasser is an employee, the result may be a warning, salary deduction or relocation.
The department shall follow up to make sure that the harassments have ceased. If the harassments continue the department shall immediately refer the matter to the Disciplinary Council, which will suspend the harasser, or corresponding Human Resources Office if the harasser is an employee. It is therefore vital that you tell someone if the harassments continue.
Reprisals are prohibited. The university treats very seriously all cases of students being subjected to discrimination or harassment as a result of them reporting a case of harassment. Immediately contact the person in charge of the investigation, head of the department or the university’s Coordinator for Equal Treatment if you feel you been subjected to reprisals.
Guide – Harassment and victimisation
Here you can read or download our guide as a pdf file.
Last updated: October 18, 2019
Source: Student Services