We will fight racial and sexual harassment

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Svein Stølen, rector of the University of Oslo, says the university does not accept harassment in any form.

Svein Stølen, rector of the University of Oslo, says the university does not accept harassment in any form.

Responsibility. We need our university to be characterized by trust rather than fear, by respect rather than disrespect, and by generosity rather than selfishness, writes rector of the University of Oslo, Svein Stølen

Earlier this week, on behalf of the University of Oslo (UiO), we communicated a sincere apology to employees that have experienced racial or sexual harassment.

We cannot change the past, but let one thing be clear: UiO does not accept harassment in any form, whether it is based on skin color, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, or disability.

The equality and anti-discrimination ombudsman has recently concluded that the University of Oslo has failed to follow discrimination law, on the grounds that UiO has insufficiently fulfilled its duty to prevent harassment of an employee.

We need our university to be characterized by trust rather than fear, by respect rather than disrespect, and by generosity rather than selfishness.
Svein Stølen
Rector, University of Oslo

We take the Ombudsman’s conclusion with the utmost seriousness. We are very sorry that employees at UiO have experienced harassment. We also apologize for the fact that UiO has not done enough to stop the harassment.

UiO should be a good place to work and study – for all students and all employees. If any employee or student uses harassing or degrading language, or in other ways harasses colleagues or fellow students, this must be stopped. Harassing statements can, as an ultimate consequence, provide grounds for termination of employment at UiO.

All leaders/managers, throughout the university, are responsible for ensuring a good work environment. From the university leadership we will convey very clearly that it is any leader/manager’s responsibility to act immediately if someone is experiencing harassment at UiO.

All students and employees are encouraged to use the Speak up-system, to avoid silence, passiveness or indifference when the right reaction is to speak up. We need to join forces throughout the whole university. In order to continue developing a strong academic community and an inclusive culture for both students and staff, we need our university to be characterized by trust rather than fear, by respect rather than disrespect, and by generosity rather than selfishness.

We have asked for a task force who will give advice on what measures UiO should take, so that students and staff know they can feel safe. We clearly need to increase the competence in the organization and we will offer preferably obligatory, courses for all leaders/managers at UiO on how to fight all kinds of harassment. These courses must include classes on rules and regulations, but also secure practical guidance and training.

Conflicts involving harassment are complex and difficult, and we need to enable our leaders/managers to deal with these conflicts much more actively than we have done until now. We also need to secure the necessary capacity in the support system.

We will communicate clearly the values we expect are shared among the whole UiO community, and strongly enforce that all cases will be followed up in a way that encompasses all involved.

This post was first published at Svein Stølen's blog.

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