Prioritising activities towards a safer workplace

19 November 2021

Umeå University wants to be a safe place for students and staff to work and study. Lately, however, both local media, students and staff have highlighted that the university's routines against sexual harassment have shortcomings.
This is why a number of measures and activities have been initiated to put focus on the work.
"Umeå University's work against sexual harassment must be improved. We would like students and staff to know that we prioritise this work," says Heidi Hansson, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Education and Equal Opportunities.

There is already ongoing work against sexual harassment at Umeå University. But that work is given special priority now.

Photo: Ulrika Bergfors


Umeå University has adopted a zero vision regarding harassment and bullying. To reach that vision, the work must be never-ending. At Umeå University such work exists, but recently it has become evident that what is done is not enough and that the work must be prioritised higher. It has also become noticeable that Umeå University lacks clear information gathered in one place about how the university can support students and staff and what to do if they are exposed to harassment at the university.

Hans Adolfsson, vice-chancellor of Umeå University.

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"It is truly regrettable and unacceptable that students and staff are exposed to various forms of harassment at the university. It violates our basic values and our vision for a sound work environment," says Hans Adolfsson, Vice-Chancellor of Umeå University, continuing:

"As a member of the management in charge, it is up to us to ensure that there are sufficient resources, supportive functions and knowledge available for managers, students and staff to efficiently prevent that these events occur. When they sadly do occur, we must have clear and well-known routines for how to act, so that we can act fast and correctly."

The work is prioritized

Recent media coverage of past cases has made it clear that Umeå University's work against sexual harassment must be prioritised to ensure a safe and secure place of study or work for everyone. This is why the University Management has initiated and expediated a number of measures and activities to strengthen this work during the remainder of the autumn semester and into the spring semester. These activities include inspections, updated policy documents, discussions and group work among managers and to improve the information on what support is available and what to do if you have been exposed. The staff web now presents a page with more detailed information. 

Heidi Hansson, Deputy Vice-Chancellor with responsibility for equal opportunities.

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"It's important to show that focused work is underway to prevent all forms of harassment at our university," says Heidi Hansson.

She also wishes to emphasise that more activities will be added, but the measures described on the staff web are the ones in motion right now.

"This work is continual and must always be active at all levels of the organisation. We must do this together to regain the trust of one another, and of the university," she says.

Forward-looking work

The University Management would like emphasise that the work that now takes place is future-oriented. Cases that have already been processed will not be tried again.

When a government authority reaches a decision and the decision gains legal force, it cannot be tried again. 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 will, of course, go through the consequences of previously made decisions and learn from them. Even if we can establish that, legally speaking, no violations have been made, it is evident that the effects have not always turned out well. There are several dimensions to consider when many people are affected," says Hans Adolfsson.

For a safer workplace

Several measures are being taken to better equip the university for handling and preventing psychological and sexual harassment, and other forms of harassment.

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