Harassment and sexual harassment
Lund University does not accept harassment or sexual harassment. Here students will find information about what they can do if they are subjected to, or witness behaviour they perceive to be, harassment or sexual harassment.
What is harassment and sexual harassment?
Harassment and sexual harassment are two forms of discrimination.
Harassment is conduct that violates a person’s dignity and that is associated with one of the grounds of discrimination.
The seven grounds of discrimination are:
- religion or other belief
- sexual orientation
- transgender identity or expression.
For example, this can take the form of ridiculing someone or making demeaning generalisations, mocking someone or deliberately complicating their situation.
Sexual harassment is conduct of a sexual nature that offends someone’s dignity. It can take the form of comments and words, groping or indiscreet stares. Unwelcome compliments, invitations and innuendos can also constitute sexual harassment.
It is the individual subjected to the conduct who determines what is undesired or unwelcome. If you are subjected to harassment, it is important that you make clear to the person harassing you that they must stop. For situations in which the abusive conduct is obvious, you do not need to clarify this point.
Lund University is responsible for working systematically and preventively with active measures against discrimination. Lund University’s Vice-Chancellor has the overall responsibility for the work environment. In practice, heads of department and other managers in the organisation are responsible for ensuring a good work environment.
All employees and students at Lund University have a responsibility to contribute to a positive work environment, free from harassment and sexual harassment for both students and staff.
If you feel subjected to harassment or sexual harassment
Lund University has procedures in place on how to manage cases concerning harassment and sexual harassment.
Tell a member of the teaching staff or someone else in charge
If as a student you feel you have been subjected to harassment or sexual harassment, you can turn to the person responsible for your programme – in some cases the head of department – and report what has happened. You can also turn to another employee that you trust, such as a member of teaching staff.
You can turn to your student union, student health and safety representative or student ombudsman for advice and support when approaching the University.
If the perceived violations have occurred in connection with educational activities and could constitute harassment or sexual harassment, the person responsible for the programme is to start an investigation. Together with other employees, they are also to manage the situation so that both the individual who feels targeted and the individual who has been accused have a good work environment during the investigation.
Making an anonymous report of the conduct can give a sense of security, but doing so means it can be difficult to take appropriate measures and for you to receive the help you need.
The person responsible for the programme needs to speak to everyone involved in order to learn as much as possible about what has happened. This includes you as the individual who feels targeted and the individual being accused of the behaviour. Sometimes the investigator has to speak to others who may have seen or heard what happened. If the investigator is unable to do this, they will not have enough documentation for measures to be taken against the problem. In this case, the university can only work generally and preventively.
If you feel uncertain whether you dare to tell the person responsible for the programme or a member of teaching staff that something has happened, consider what might make you feel more secure in the situation. You can speak to someone else, for example a student union representative, student health and safety representative, student ombudsman or someone at the Student Health Centre, all of whom can provide support in the discussion with the University.
If you trust and feel secure with a member of teaching staff, you can speak to them about your concerns so that you can jointly find a way forward to improving the work environment for everyone.
How an investigation is conducted
When the person responsible for the programme is apprised of the situation, the investigation begins by them speaking to the individual who feels targeted. The investigation needs to start there so that the investigator can obtain as good an idea as possible regarding what the individual experienced as offensive.
An investigation can be quick and easy if the event is simple to investigate. A discussion with the individual who feels targeted and one with the individual who is accused of the conduct, and an apology from the accused individual, may suffice to resolve the situation.
An investigation can also be extensive, complex and take time. If there have been multiple events over a long period of time, the investigation will require a substantial amount of time to conduct. The individuals concerned are to be given the opportunity to provide their version of events and to respond to new information during the investigation. An investigation might take a few weeks or several months to conduct.
A structured investigation follows a few fundamental steps:
- The investigator speaks both to the individual who feels targeted and the individual/s accused of the conduct, separately.
- The individuals concerned are given the opportunity to comment on what the other individual/s said.
- The investigator speaks to others who may have heard and seen what has happened.
- The investigator collects other information, for example emails or text messages.
- The investigator analyses the documentation – is it possible to follow the course of events?
- The investigator assesses the event – is it some type of offensive conduct in the legal sense?
- The investigator writes a report describing their investigation process and reasoning.
- The investigator shares their findings with the person responsible for the programme and potentially with the individuals concerned.
If you are party to an investigation, you will receive more information from the investigator at every step.
There is generally an expectation of a clear result when an individual feels targeted. The individual subjected to the conduct often desires some form of redress, for example that the person in question is punished, which is a natural feeling. An investigation into harassment and sexual harassment, however, will not lead to punishment since it is not a criminal investigation. The aim of the investigation is to determine what has happened and whether or not the conduct constitutes harassment or sexual harassment. Sometimes the investigator will not be able to determine what has happened, which means they cannot determine whether the conduct is to be deemed as harassment or sexual harassment.
The investigation is to provide the person responsible for the programme with sufficient information to implement measures to address the situation and put a stop to the abusive conduct. What is required to reinstate a good work environment depends on the circumstances. You, your fellow students and the University’s employees are obliged to help to achieve a good work environment.
Neither the University nor a representative of the University may subject you to reprisals if you have called the University’s attention to harassment or sexual harassment or reported that the University has violated the Discrimination Act.
The protection also applies when someone participates in an investigation in accordance with the Discrimination Act or has rejected or given in to harassment or sexual harassment.
Potential measures in the event of harassment or sexual harassment
If the investigation concludes that a student has harassed or sexually harassed another student or a member of staff, the case will be raised to the Disciplinary Board.
If the investigation concludes that a member of staff has harassed or sexually harassed a student, the member of staff’s line manager is to reprimand them. In very serious cases, the member of staff’s case may be handled by the Staff Disciplinary Board.
You can read more about disciplinary matters and the work of the Disciplinary Board on the webpage:
Don’t delay seeking help if you feel subjected to harassment. As a student, you are to feel safe contacting staff members if you feel harassed.
The absolutely most important thing is that you know you are always entitled to help, advice and support if you feel harassed. For example, you can turn to the Student Health Centre, your student health and safety representative, student ombudsman, or your student union. You can find more information about these activities on our webpage about rights and obligations.
Support you can offer as a fellow student
You can also help as a fellow student of someone who feels subjected to offensive conduct or someone who has been accused of the conduct. You can tell a member of teaching staff or the person responsible for the programme if you see and/or hear something that could be perceived as offensive conduct.
Since both the individual who feels targeted and the person accused of the conduct are likely to remain in the study programme during and after the investigation, it is helpful if you as a fellow student can maintain a neutral relationship with both of them. If you can serve as support without choosing sides or judging anyone, that is positive.
Remember not to spread rumours or speak ill of a student in front of others. Doing so only makes the situation worse for everyone and damages the work environment.
If you feel subjected to other offensive conduct
You may experience a behaviour as offensive even if it is not linked to one of the grounds on which discrimination occurs listed in the legislation, or it is not of a sexual nature. In their role as responsible for the study and work environment, you can raise the issue with the person responsible for the programme, or with a member of teaching staff. Raise the issue with your head of department, who is the line manager responsible for the students' work environment. You can also turn to your student health and safety representative for advice and support.
Other forms of discrimination
Harassment and sexual harassment are two types of discrimination under the Discrimination Act. There are four additional forms of discrimination pertaining to an individual feeling disadvantaged in relation to others in a comparable situation.
The offensive conduct is to be connected to one of the seven grounds of discrimination. Lund University does not investigate these forms of discrimination itself, but it is a good idea to inform the person responsible for the programme of your experience so that it can be addressed by the University’s systematic anti-discrimination work (SFAD).
Read more about Lund University’s preventive work on the webpage below.
You can read more about other forms of discrimination on the Equality Ombudsman’s website.