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Zero tolerance towards harassment

2017-12-12

Even women in academia and in the technology industry have joined in the Me too campaign. This is not surprising, but yet shocking.

#akademiuppropet, the University Call to Action signed by 2,400 women, opens with the words: "For all those who have worked in the university before us, for us working in academia now, and for all young women who dream of being part of it: we demand that the sexism that women are exposed to within the academy is taken seriously and is put to an end."

What follows is a series of anonymous stories about sexual abuse and cynical exercise of power — upsetting incidents that sometimes seem to have occurred under the eyes of colleagues or bosses.

I agree with the signatories that women must be able to study and work at colleges and universities without facing the risk of being subjected to physical abuse and verbal harassment. Of course, this applies not only to women but to everyone, employees as well as students.

It is profoundly injurious that the person who subjects others to harassment can continue within the academy as if nothing happened, while the victim may feel forced to quit and, at worst, abandon the academia. The stories gathered from universities in Sweden show that we cannot be complacent. On the contrary, we must be more attentive and take more substantial measures.

What about LTH? I am convinced that, of course, we must oppose this. As dean at LTH, I am responsible for ensuring compliance with equal treatment, gender equality, and diversity. But I ask all of us to take personal responsibility — and to cooperate. We need to get better at seeing what is going on, and we must act when we see something. We have to be there for those who become the victim of harassment!

For those with a leading position at LTH, it is especially important to look into our consciences and not turn a blind eye when someone commits actions that are disrespectful. This applies in all situations!

I am pleased that Teknologkåren has taken the initiative to gather stories about harassment at LTH to assess the extent of the problem and to take actions that will make us the university that we want, and should, be.

It is advisable to emphasize that today we have established policies at LTH for students or employees who need to report sexual harassment. You who are experiencing violent discrimination or harassment should contact the head of department or equivalent at your institution. Here you can read more about LTH's commitment against sexual harassment. We will review these processes.

A well-functioning workplace and study environment require security for everyone. At LTH we must work together to prevent that sexism and abuse of power damage our education and research — and hurt individuals.

The imperatives for me and all of us at LTH are: Transparency. Responsibility. And zero tolerance.

Viktor Öwall
Dean, Faculty of Engineering (LTH)


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Viktor Öwall
Dean of the Faculty of Engineering LTH

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