Reporting harassment

Last changed: 20 November 2017

Here you will find information about who to contact if you are mistreated or harassed in connection with your studies at SLU.

Where should I turn?

If you feel that you are being harassed or mistreated by someone at SLU, there are several people you can talk to.

Turn primarily to:

  • the director of studies at the department or your programme director of studies.

You can also contact:

  • the head of department
  • SLU’s legal officers

You can get support from:

  • the study advisers, who can provide advice and support if you are thinking about reporting discrimination or harassment.

You have the right not to be subjected to harassment. This applies regardless of whether the harassment is from a teacher or another employee, or from another student. This also applies when you are on a placement, study visits, or in contacts with external lecturers or supervisors.

What is harassment?

Harassment is behaviour which offends someone. Harassment is banned under the Swedish Discrimination Act when it is connected to some form of basis for discrimination. Harassment can include the use of ridiculing or degrading generalisations of, for example, “female”, “homosexual” or “Romany” characteristics. It can also include freezing out, acting as if someone is invisible or making insulting comments. Common to all forms of harassment is that they make a person feel bad, threatened, offended or mistreated.

Harassment can also be of a sexual nature. This is called sexual harassment. This can be touching, fondling, jokes, suggestions, looks or images that allude to sex. It can also include the use of sexual jargon. Sexual harassment differs from ordinary flirting in that it is unwelcome.  

The person who is subjected to harassment is the one who decides what is offensive. The same behaviour could therefore be considered harassment by one student but not by another.

Advice on what to do if you are subjected to harassment

  • Speak up! Sometimes it is obvious that the person committing harassment should realise that they are being offensive. However, in many cases it is important that you make it clear to the person harassing you that their behaviour is unwelcome and must stop. You can do this verbally, in writing or through someone you trust.
  • Keep a record. Write down what has happened and when.
  • Get support. There are lots of different ways to get support if you are subjected to harassment.
  • Report what has happened to SLU staff, particularly if the harassment does not stop after you have spoken up about it.

What happens when you report harassment?

SLU must investigate all suspected harassment and make it stop. If you tell a director of studies or a study and career advisor about harassment, they will not take the matter further unless you ask them to. If you wish, they can help you report to the head of department or the SLU legal officers for investigation.

If an employee finds out that a student has been subjected to harrasment, they must report it to the head of department or the legal officers.

In some cases, an investigation will be done at the department. The head of department will then interview everyone involved (the person who has been subjected to harassment, and the person suspected of it). This is sometimes enough for the harassment to stop.

When the Legal Affairs Unit receive a report of suspected harassment, they will always investigate. If the conclusion is that harassment has taken place, it may result in a report to the Disciplinary Board, if the person suspected of harassment is a student. If it is a teacher or other employee, the matter is reported to the Staff Disciplary Board.

The disciplinary measures for students may be a warning, or suspension from classes and examinations for a defined period. For teachers or other staff, disciplinary measures may be a warning, transfer to a different post or dismissal.

Remember that a formal report and investigation become public documents that anyone can request to see.

Some forms of harassment are criminal acts that can also be reported to the police.

If you report an SLU student or employee for harassent, you have the right not to be subjected to reprisals, that is punished e.g. by getting a lower grade or being harassed in class. If this still happens, you should report it to the Discrimination Ombudsman, DO.

Page editor: utb-webb@slu.se