Students and staff at VID have a shared responsibility to ensure a good psychosocial working environment. Everyone has a duty to help prevent, counteract and eradicate bullying and discrimination, and this includes reporting situations where someone is being bullied, harassed, discriminated against or violated.
Pursuant to the Act relating to universities and colleges (LOV-2005-04-01-15), the board of VID is responsible for facilitating a good learning environment and for taking steps to improve student welfare at the institution (section 4-3).
The Learning Environment Committee has a special responsibility for ensuring that efforts are made to create a good and safe learning environment.
VID’s management has a duty to initiate measures to follow up claims of bullying/ harassment/discrimination and any violations of the law. It also has overall responsibility for working systematically to ensure that no one suffers damage to their health as a result of bullying, harassment or other improper conduct at the institution. Any such issues must be treated with the necessary confidentiality.
What do we mean by unwanted sexual attention?
Unwanted sexual attention can be verbal, non-verbal and/or physical.
The Gender Equality Act prohibits sexual harassment. The Equality and Anti-discrimination Ombudsman stipulates the following:
Sexual attention becomes harassment when:
- it is unwanted
- it is undesirable
- it continues after the recipient has told the person to stop
- it has negative repercussions of a physical, mental or professional nature
Other factors that play a role:
- the severity of the behaviour
- the time and place of the behaviour
- whether the behaviour has taken place over a period of time
- the balance of power between the harasser and the aggrieved party, and whether they have a relationship of dependence
Examples of behaviour that may be considered sexual harassment:
- unnecessary touching and ‘prodding’
- intrusive comments about the person’s body, clothes or private life
- sexual advances, suggestions and innuendos
- showing pornographic images, whistling and body movements that have a sexual undertone
Unwanted sexual attention can occur between employees, between students and employees, or between students. The problem must be taken seriously regardless of the status of the person affected. VID must be notified of such incidents in order to deal with unwanted sexual attention that affects employment/studies and/or is related to employment/studies.
What do we mean by bullying and discrimination?
‘It is bullying when a person is repeatedly, over time, subjected to negative treatment by one or more persons in such a way that he/she is unable to defend him/herself against these actions.’ (Norwegian Labour Inspection Authority)
Bullying may involve harassment, pestering, ostracism, hurtful teasing, attempts to make someone feel invisible, removal of work tasks and such like. In such situations, the power imbalance between the parties involved often makes it difficult for the person who feels bullied to defend him/herself.
Bullying can further be defined as follows:
- Where actions are perceived to be deeply unfair and offensive by the person affected
- Where negative actions are repeated over time or the consequences of such actions are long lasting
- Where actions cannot reasonably be viewed as something that employees and students have to tolerate and therefore as part of their job or studies
‘An unfair or unreasonable difference in the treatment of individuals based on their gender, religion, ethnic affiliation, nationality or disability.’ (Store norske leksikon, 2016)
How do we report improper conduct?
Anyone who is subjected to bullying, harassment, discrimination, offensive or improper conduct may feel the need to talk with fellow students or staff in order to assess the events and their own reactions before deciding whether to take the matter further. Employees are subject to the duty of confidentiality. In the event that serious circumstances are uncovered, and the person affected does not have the strength to take the matter further, they may give the person they have contacted consent to do so on their behalf.
Persons who are notified of bullying or discrimination must provide support, guidance and assistance. Students must be able to feel confident that they will be met with knowledge and understanding within a confidential framework.
Alternative ways to raise such matters at VID:
- Raise the matter with an employee you trust
- Raise the matter with the relevant head of studies
- Raise the matter with the dean of the relevant faculty
- Contact the student priest or student deacon
- Raise the matter with the Rector
You can also talk with your student representative or representatives from the student council.
VID aims to resolve issues concerning bullying and discrimination immediately, and at the lowest level possible. If this is not possible, the aggrieved party should submit a written complaint to VID.
Any issues that concern unwanted sexual attention/harassment should be reported to VID by the aggrieved party.
If you want to take the matter further, you should report it to the dean at your faculty or to the pro-rector if you are a PhD student:
A secure online platform for reporting incidents is currently being developed.
What happens after improper conduct is reported?
The dean/pro-rector at your faculty has a special responsibility for following up the matter in collaboration with the Director of Academic and Student Affairs. However, you can also contact the Rector directly if the dean/pro-rector is the person you want to report, if the dean/pro-rector has a close working relationship with the person in question, or if the dean/pro-rector does not take your complaint seriously.
All such matters shall be handled in the strictest confidence both during and after the complaints process. All employees involved in the case processing are subject to the duty of confidentiality, also internally in VID.
The alleged harasser has the right to know about and gain access to the complaint submitted, and to express their opinion. VID therefore recommends that complaints are submitted in writing. The parties’ privacy must be protected and the management must decide how much detail should be disclosed to the parties involved. The person reporting the matter will not always be informed of the progress in the case.
The person in charge of the matter at VID will summon the parties to separate meetings, where they will be given the opportunity to comment. Both parties must have the opportunity to be assisted by a student/employee representative or other support person.
Guidelines for handling unwanted sexual attention av VID Specialized University (pdf)