In a capacity as a representative of the university, you are responsible for ensuring that the matter is investigated and that steps are taken, if necessary. It is vital that you act without delay.

You can read about which forms of harassment are covered by Discrimination Act in area of higher education, under ‘Which forms of harassment are covered by the Discrimination Act?’

The following information applies in situations when a student claims to have been harassed by another student or a representative of the university.

If a student claims to have been subjected to harassment on grounds not covered by the Discrimination Act, Swedish work environment law may be applicable. The advice below can still be used, but the coordinator for equal opportunities, for example, will not need to be informed.

General advice to employees who are contacted by a student claiming to have been subjected to harassment:

Take what the student tells you seriously
Do not play down or gloss over the experience of the student. A student who shares their experience of harassment is in a very vulnerable position and you should treat that person with extra care and consideration. Whether it is a case of harassment will be investigated in accordance with the Discrimination Act. There are very few cases where the university is not obliged to investigate claims of harassment by students.

Harassment is not tolerated at Stockholm University
Explain to the student that the university does not tolerate harassment and takes claims of harassment from students very seriously. This is reflected in the thoroughness of the investigation that is conducted as a result of it. You can read more about how an investigation is conducted under ‘Investigation according to the Discrimination Act’.

Act directly but discretely
Do not wait before acting/taking the matter to the head of department when a student claims to have been harassed. The longer the delay the more complicated these matters often become. Other aggravating circumstances include the spreading of rumours. Avoid telling people about the harassment if they are not involved. If the burden of keeping the information to yourself is too great you can get counselling sessions or other assistance at the Human Resources Office.

Take the matter further to the head of department or equivalent
Inform the head of department, unit manager or equivalent about what has happened and tell the student which person is in charge of the investigation and who the student can turn to for supplementary information and to ask questions. The investigation officially begins here. The parties involved (the student and the alleged harasser) should be interviewed as soon as possible.

Make sure the harrasments stop
By talking to the alleged harasser, the head of department or other department representative can underline to them the serious view taken by the university on the insulting treatment of students. This applies either when the alleged harasser is a student or employee. The alleged harasser shall also be given an opportunity to explain himself/herself, not only because he/she has the chance to stop the harassments before the matter is taken to the Disciplinary Council or Staff Disciplinary Board, but because the reported incident may not turn out to be a case of harassment or inappropriate behaviour after all. It is therefore important to interview the parties involved before taking action, unless the threats or insults are serious enough to warrant steps being taken with respect to the student’s security. A neutral approach will be adopted towards both parties in the investigation.

Inform the student about the support and help that is available

  • Recommend the student to contact the Student Health Unit for counselling support.
  • Encourage the student to keep a journal of the harassment and to save copies of letters, e-mail messages, text messages and similar.
  • Students can also get help from their student union, but it is the university which is responsible for the students’ study environment and has the obligation to take action to prevent harassment.
  • You will also find information about harassment intended for students on the university’s website under ‘If you have been harassed’.
  • Students can also get help from the Security Unit if they a reporting a case of harassment to the police.

Contact the Coordinator for Equal Treatment for advice. Inform the Coordinator that a case of suspected harassment has occurred. In some cases the harasser may have been investigated at another department, in which case it is sufficient reason to refer the matter directly to the Disciplinary Council without delay. If the harasser is an employee, it could be a matter for the Staff Disciplinary Board, in which case the matter should be referred there as soon as possible.

Employees are also welcome to contact the Coordinator for Equal Treatment for advice about harassment, investigations and similar equal treatment issues.

If a student who has harassed another student is suspended from his/her studies by the decision of the Disciplinary Council, it is important that the suspension is observed. Advice and guidelines on how to handle this situation are available.