Ensuring the wellbeing of its staff and students, maintaining a safe and equal environment, and promoting good and positive interaction within the community are some of the main objectives of Uniarts Helsinki.
Each member of the university community has the responsibility to take care of the positive atmosphere and wellbeing of the study and work community.
It is human for occasional differences and misunderstandings to occur between people within a workplace and learning community. When everyone knows how to address conflict immediately, more serious fall-out can usually be avoided.
Why do we have conflicts?
Often the reason for various kinds of conflicts is interaction and communication that has somehow been unsuccessful, for example due to a misunderstanding, busy schedule or a lack of consideration. It is important to apologise immediately after noticing that somebody’s feelings have been hurt, whether it is due to unintentional or intentional behaviour.
Responsibility to provide a safe study environment
The employer is obligated to ensure healthy and safe working conditions for its employees and to investigate the matter immediately in case harassment and inappropriate treatment occurs and to take action by available means (Occupational Safety and Health Act 738/2002). It is also the university’s university’s responsibility to provide a safe study environment for the students (Universities Act 558/2009).
Uniarts Helsinki has a zero-tolerance policy against inappropriate treatment. This means the following:
- no form of inappropriate or unequal treatment or communication will be tolerated
- anyone who sees or faces inappropriate treatment must address the matter immediately
- no kind of misuse of power is allowed
- the entire organisation is invested in the prevention of bullying and harassment
- situations that are brought to the attention of the employer will be settled promptly and properly
What can I do if I experience inappropriate treatment?
If you find another person’s behaviour inappropriate, it is best to act immediately. First bring up the matter with the person in question, say that you do not approve of their actions and ask them to stop. If you find that the inappropriate treatment continues even after addressing the matter, take the matter forward.
Address the situation
It may feel difficult to address the situation, but by doing so, you will contribute to promoting the culture of proper and respectful conduct, which is very brave and important. Do not forget that that there is help available for you (check the section Contact persons and their responsibilities); you do not have to take the matter forward alone.
Explain what exactly you thought constituted inappropriate treatment in the person’s actions
When you are having the conversation with the person, explain what exactly you thought constituted inappropriate treatment in the person’s actions. Describe to the person what aspect in their behaviour you thought was out of line. Say to the person that you do not approve of their actions and ask them to stop. It may be that the person does not understand that they are acting in an offensive way. In the best-case scenario, inappropriate treatment will stop already at this point.
If the situation is threatening, leave and/or ask another person to join you. In an emergency, call the emergency number 112.
Write down what happened
Write down what happened, when it happened and who were present in the situation. Documentation helps in solving the matter, because it provides clear material stating what exactly has happened and what people have considered inappropriate behaviour.
You can take the matter forward even when you have not been able to talk about the matter directly to the person who has behaved inappropriately. However, it is important to try to intervene as soon as possible after the situation so that matters will not get out of hand and become even more complex, making it more challenging to address them.
Don’t struggle with the matter alone
Do not blame yourself for the situation or struggle with the matter alone. There are various different members of the university community whose special job duty it is to provide support in taking the matter forward.
You can read the section “Contact persons and their responsibilities” to find out which role each of these persons has. After a report on inappropriate treatment, the person in charge of the investigation process has the obligation to take measures within two weeks.
University employees are bound by confidentiality when it comes to confidential information pursuant to the Act on the Openness of Government Activities, and personal data of the parties involved must be processed in a careful manner. Discussions with the Student Union’s harassment contact persons are also strictly confidential.
If you suspect that you have fallen victim of a crime, report the offence to the police.
If a person falsely states that they have been treated inappropriately, that, too, is inappropriate treatment.
What are the steps in the investigation process?
Investigation in the matter begins
Investigation in the matter must begin with minimal delay, within two weeks at the latest, after the representative of the employer has been notified. The person in charge of the investigation contacts both of the parties and first hears both sides separately. If possible, a joint discussion with all the parties involved will be organised. The purpose of the discussion is to have the parties share their experiences and agree on how to act in the future.
All parties involved must be kept up-to-date on the progress
All parties involved must be kept up-to-date on the progress and schedule of the investigation throughout the process and informed about who to contact if they have questions. For due process of the matter, it is important that you write down what kind of inappropriate behaviour has occurred, how often it has occurred, and what your reaction to the matter has been.
The investigation must be equal and fair to everyone involved
The investigation must be equal and fair to everyone involved and in all the phases of the process. The investigation must be launched without preconceptions and with an open attitude towards all possible conclusions. If the person in charge of the investigation has a preconception of the situation, the experiences of the person who has reported on inappropriate treatment, or of the person who is suspected of this behaviour, they must deliberate whether they can be in charge of resolving the case. The person in charge of the investigation must be neutral in the process. The situation cannot be dealt with anonymously.
Focus is concrete situations
During the investigation process – both in the individual discussions and the joint meeting – the focus is on concrete situations and the details about the behaviour that has been considered inappropriate. There is always a need to discuss concrete situations, what has happened and how each party has experienced the situation. However, it is important not to get too hung up on the events.
A solution-centred process aims at making everyone’s study and work environment normal and peaceful again with the help of a joint resolution and agreement.
An agreement must be made
If inappropriate treatment has occurred, an agreement must be made concerning studies, work and behaviour in an effort to put an end to any kind of inappropriate conduct. The guilty party is given the opportunity to change their behaviour.
Junior Academy students
This process description does not apply to Junior Academy students, who are underage (which means that their guardians must be informed of the process and they must be present when the minor is being heard. Disciplinary measures under the Universities Act do not apply to Junior Academy students).
More info about the process
Will my identity be revealed if I talk to somebody else about the matter?
University employees are bound by confidentiality on confidential information pursuant to the Act on the Openness of Government Activities, and personal data of the parties involved must be processed in a careful manner. Discussions with the Student Union’s harassment contact persons are also strictly confidential. People’s privacy is protected by ensuring that their identity is not revealed without a justified reason.
It is not possible to take concrete measures on the basis of anonymous reports. Taking concrete measures requires the disclosure of the person’s identity. This is done only after the permission to do so has been given by the person who has made the report. The person must also be told who their identity will be revealed to.
The person in charge of investigating the case must store the correspondence and other documents related to the matter until they deem the case to be resolved. If no documents that could be archived are produced during the case, the person in charge of the investigation must store related information on the matter after the completion of the investigation in so far as is necessary for the management of their duties and for possible further discussion on the matter.
What is the purpose of documentation?
Documentation is important for the legal protection of the parties involved as well as the supervisor looking into the matter. Evidence related to the matter may refer to accounts by people and possible digital communications. If there are no written documents included in the evidence, the person looking into the matter must write a memorandum of the events. The person who is investigating the matter should always write down the conversations and the names of the persons present in the conversations. If there is no written proof available, there must be an account of the events told by someone. Matters that cannot be proved have no relevance. Personnel’s medical records and other material related to their health can be used only with a permission from the person in question. When processing personal data, all provisions and guidelines related to the processing of personal data must be followed.
The person suspected of harassment has the right to receive information of the harassment report, and on the other hand, the other party has the right to receive information of the written response given by the person suspected of harassment (=Right to information of the parties involved).