Response to the petition signed by students: Dismantling systematic racism is at the core of creating an equal community

We want to do our own part in building a culture that fosters equality, declare the rector, vice-rectors and deans of Uniarts Helsinki.

We give our thanks to those who signed the ‘Anti-racist strategies into the curriculum’ petition for boldly opening up a discussion on an important topic. As is also stated in the petition, educational institutions have great power and responsibility in dismantling systemic racism.

The petition justly demands that arts universities pay attention to the updating of education contents from an anti-racist point of view in the future and ensure the accessibility of instruction and the diversity of the teaching staff’s backgrounds.

A curriculum reform is one of the key components in the implementation of Uniarts Helsinki’s new strategy. Ensuring equality and equal treatment and preventing discrimination and racism provide important perspectives for the university’s curriculum reform work. We need your input when discussing these themes, which is why we invite everyone who signed the petition at Uniarts Helsinki to work on our new curricula. The work will continue next spring and in autumn 2021 in thematic workshops, and both staff and students are welcome to join. 

In our new strategy, we state it as our goals to strengthen the diversity of our community, make its members feel included and create a culture of constructive interaction within and outside the university. In the upcoming strategy period, we will therefore review our current recruitment and student admissions procedures with a critical eye and with a focus on equality, equal treatment and non-discrimination. We will also provide training for our staff and students so that everyone will learn how to identify structures and prejudices that stand in the way of diversity. The aim of all of these measures is to support the development of an internationally appealing university community that is characterised by its wellbeing and lack of discrimination and racism.

Identifying and dismantling systematic racism are central elements in our effort to create an equal community. Our work at Uniarts Helsinki and in the Finnish society at large is far from complete, which is why we need to engage in an open discussion and seek outside perspectives. We already have the tools needed to intervene in overt racism and discrimination. We have updated our guidelines on how to intervene in harassment and inappropriate treatment, and we want to make it increasingly easier for people to report their negative experiences. The new guidelines and the updated version of our Equality Plan will be published this autumn.

For the upcoming 2021–2030 strategy period, Uniarts Helsinki has defined openness as its third value, to complement skill and courage. We want to make our university an ambitious community for bold reformers and experts in tradition. This kind of community can only grow stronger when it is diverse and inclusive: when we regard different ways of doing things and different perspectives and backgrounds as assets that help us transform our community, the arts, and the whole society.

We want to do our own part in building a culture, a society and a global community that fosters and defends equality and equal treatment.

Jari Perkiömäki

Lauri Väkevä
Vice Rector for Education

Jaana Erkkilä-Hill
Vice Rector for Research and Doctoral Education

Kaarlo Hildén
Sibelius Academy Dean

Hanna Johansson
Academy of Fine Arts Dean

Maarit Ruikka
Theatre Academy Dean