​Safe at Chalmers – one year since the launch

It is now a year since Safe at Chalmers was launched. Statistics from the first year with the digital platform show that students have used the tool more than employees. It is also clear that the reports of harassment have been decreasing since the period of online teaching and working from home started due to the corona crisis.

Where does the border between joke and harassment go and who decides where that border goes? These are difficult questions to answer, but it is just these kind of topics that are raised at chalmers.se/en/safe​. Safe at Chalmers is not just a tool for reporting harassment but also an information source, where you can learn more about what harassment is and get concrete tips on how to contribute to creating a good work and study environment for everyone.

Safe at Chalmers should make it easier for more people to have the confidence to speak up against harassment, but it does not replace the idea that, as an employee, you should contact your manager or, as a student, your Head of Programme, if you feel exposed to harassment in any way.

“We have handled 55 reports through the system so far, but there have been thousands of unique visits to the pages which deals with harassment and how a pleasant study and work environment should be,” says Sara Thornadtsson Chavarria, Coordinator for equality and diversity issues at Chalmers, continuing:

“In short, it can be said that more students than employees reported through the platform, but regarding who has been reported, there are about as many employees as students. Something that stands out is that very few doctoral students have used the tool, but it may be because they have other channels for reporting harassment. I don't think it is less incidents linked to that group.”

One common area of discrimination that has been reported, in addition to sexism and gender (24 cases, 43%), has been racism – 7 reports (13 %) have been reported since the platform opened. It took a couple of months for the website to increase the number of users, but in the autumn last year the number of reports started to grow. It then dropped again in connection to when the corona pandemic started and teaching online and working from home became the new normal.  Sara Thornadtsson Chavarria would like to point out that you should report unwanted behaviour even if it happens online:

“As a university, Chalmers has a responsibility for the study and the work environment both at campus and online”, she says.

Harassment has various forms

Chalmers has had a long-term and structured work against various forms of discrimination, but with everything that came up to the surface during #MeToo, the University and the Student Union jointly started the project Chalmers against Sexism. It is a project within the framework of Focus Equality, which has worked with issues of discrimination and led in turn to the creation of Safe at Chalmers, among other things.

In the work against discrimination, there has been a demand for a figurative “red warning button" for if you see or experience unwanted behavior. Safe at Chalmers is now the red button that should make it easier and help more people to have the confidence to report incidents of harassment. 

“If you ever get that gut feeling of "this doesn't feel right" or "oh, I should do something", than Safe at Chalmers is the right tool for you. The idea is that it should be easy to report these incidents, whether it is bullying, racist or sexist jokes or inappropriate course elements. It doesn't have to be black and white or be classifiable as a specific case of discrimination. Anything that creates a feeling of insecurity or discomfort in our study and work environment can be worth reporting”, says Sara Thornadtsson Chavarria.

We are each other's study and work environment

As a colleague or classmate, everyone has an important responsibility – to take care of each other and the environment we live and work in together. You can report something that you have only witnessed or report harassments completely anonymously.

“Some people choose to report without providing contact information, but their voices are also very important to us, although there cannot then be an investigation that results in actions against an individual person. As a coordinator, I read everything. All reports are still valuable information for us, because it will be part of our statistics and our work on cultural change. If we notice that many reports are related to a question, part of the University or some other area, we can focus on it. The more information we get in, the more accurate we can be in our efforts going forward”, says Sara Thornadtsson Chavarria.

The fact that joint responsibility is important when it comes to issues regarding study and work environment is also evident in the University's collaboration with the Student Union, says Emilia Sandolf, Student welfare officer at Chalmers Student Union:
“The testimonies received through the platform are handled by an investigation team consisting of representatives from both the University and the Student Union. Sometimes we handle cases separately, sometimes together. If we feel that we are doing it better together, we will. This good collaboration between employees and students is our strength – after all we are each other's study and work environment!” says Emilia Sandolf.

Published: Thu 18 Jun 2020.