External reviewer will look at the university’s processes for handling harassmen

12 November 2021

The university conducts a systematic work environment work and also has an organisation in place for support in issues related to equal opportunities. Still, staff experience difficulties in being heard and that the university does not take these issues seriously. Consequently, the university is now taking in an external reviewer to detect shortcomings in the university's processes.

The University Management and the University Management Council, which includes all deans, the director of the Umeå School of Education, the library director, the university director, and the student unions, are now discussing how to formulate the reviewer's assignment.

The idea is to obtain an assessment from an external party on how the university handles the occurrence of, for instance, sexual harassment at Umeå University. The review will look at all parts of the process to see if the university has a sufficient framework of internal regulations, procedures, working methods, etc. It is also important to highlight possible improvements in the university's preventive measures in the form of basic values and equal opportunities.

Although, the external review will not make a new assessment of the sexual harassment cases that have already been processed at Umeå University. This is because when a government authority reaches a decision and the decision gains legal force, it cannot be tried again. A decision gaining legal force means that the case has gone through the hands of all the appropriate authorities. This is a fundamental principle of justice in existence in Sweden and other democracies so that everyone can trust that a final decision or verdict applies and cannot be overruled, and that a person cannot be convicted for the same offence twice.

"We cannot change the past, although it understandably stirs up emotions. What we can do, however, is to become better at preventing harassments and sexual harassments, and improve how we process occurrences in the future. Despite having a zero-tolerance towards such events, we must still be painfully aware that they occur at our university," says Vice-Chancellor Hans Adolfsson.

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