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Harassment, sexual harassment and bullying

Umeå University is a place for studies characterised by respect and trust for one another, and it must be safe and developing for students and staff. If something occurs when studying that makes you feel unsafe or exposed, or if you are treated abusively, it is important that you get the help you need.

Umeå University has a zero tolerance policy against discrimination, harassment and bullying. Criminal offences are investigated by the Police, but the University also has responsibility to investigate harassment and stop undesirable behaviour.

This page contains information to support students if you have been subjected to behaviour that

  • violates your personal integrity
  • makes you feel unsafe and vulnerable, or
  • harms you.

Talk to someone about what has happened

If you feel victimised, it could be good to talk to someone about what has happened. You can talk to your teacher, another student or someone else you can confide in.

If you have been subjected to undesirable behaviour, you may feel scared, angry, worried or unsafe. You may find it difficult to stop thinking about the events, or react by repressing what has happened. It may be difficult to know what type of harassing, belittling or unfavourable treatment you feel you have been subjected to. It is up to you, as the victim, to assess if the behaviour or actions are undesirable and lead to discomfort.

Talking about your experience is the first step towards feeling better. It may also help you remember and put your experience into words.

Tell your teacher or other course or programme staff

If a student feels subjected to an undesirable behaviour during your studies, or is in need of support, it is the head of department who has the authority to act and take measures.

This is one of many reasons why you should contact the head of department, someone in charge of your education or someone else you have confidence in and inform them of what has happened as soon as you feel ready.

Rectifying a situation or taking measures becomes more difficult the longer it takes before the University is informed.

If the harassment you have experienced occurred during studies and education, and can be classed as harassment, sexual harassment or psychological harassment, the University must initiate an investigation.

Write down and document what has happened

Do not put off documenting the occurrence. Write down what has happened and when, and make sure to save any potential text messages and emails. This will simplify for the investigation. It also helps you remember times, places and other details that will strengthen your description of the events.

If a teacher has subjected you to undesirable behaviour

If a teacher is the person subjecting you to undesirable behaviour, you can either

  • turn to your teacher’s manager, or submit your case to registrator@umu.se, or
  • turn to a student union representative who can help you notify the University of what has happened.

Professional support and counselling

If you are in need of professional support and counselling, you can turn to the Student Health Service. You can also contact the University Chaplaincy which offers counselling for everyone at Umeå University, regardless of philosophy or religious beliefs.

Contact the Student Health Service

Contact the University Chaplaincy

Report suspected criminal offences to the Police

If you have been subjected to a criminal act, you should report this to the Police. This applies regardless of if the person conducting the act is a student, employee or an external party.

Information on how to file a police report, and what happens when you have done so, can be found through the Swedish Police or by contacting the Swedish Crime Victim Compensation and Support Authority.

Making a report (the Swedish Police)
Brottsofferguiden (a crime victim guide by the Crime Victim Compensation and Support Authority)

Mark against undesirable behaviour

Harassment or sexual harassment is conduct that is undesirable for the person being subjected. The person subjected to harassment is the one who determines what is undesirable or violating.

For behaviour to be assessed as harassing or sexually harassing, the person who conducts the harassment must be aware that the behaviour is violating.

In some harassment and sexual harassment cases, the circumstances are such that it must be self-evident to the person committing the harassment that his or her conduct is a violation. For instance, if someone calls another person ‘nigger’ or ‘whore’, utters other derogatory expressions, or conducts various forms of groping or abuse.

In such cases, the person conducting the behaviour does not need to be informed that the behaviour is undesirable or violating.

In other cases it may not be as self-evident. The person conducting the violation must then be informed of the behaviour being unpleasant and unwelcome.

Without being informed, the behaviour cannot be classified as harassment or sexual harassment.

Support in talking to the accused party 

To mark against and say no may feel both awkward and uncomfortable. Particularly if the person conducting the undesirable behaviour is someone of higher rank.

When you talk to the person who has subjected you to the undesirable behaviour, you can bring along your teacher, a friend or someone else you have confidence in to the meeting.

You can also choose to put your message in writing and send it in an email.

How an investigation takes place

If the University is informed that a student feels subjected to harassment, sexual harassment or psychological harassment, the University is obliged to investigate the circumstances.

The purpose of the investigation is to establish what has happened and stop the undesirable behaviour.

Please note that the person singled out as potentially being guilty of harassment, sexual harassment or psychological harassment must not be judged guilty until the University has conducted an investigation and made an impartial assessment.

Reporting procedure

The most common and often most appropriate way of initiating an investigation is that you tell your teacher or other course or programme staff. You can also make a written report and send it to the registry.

Investigation procedure

When an investigation is commenced, the manager with work environment responsibilities, with aid from one of the University’s legal officers, if necessary, makes an initial assessment of whether the occurrence is to be investigated as psychological harassment, harassment or sexual harassment.

The assessment and the nature of the occurrence determine who will be in charge of the investigation: this is either the manager or, in some cases, when the case concerns harassment and sexual harassment, a university-wide team.

When a case of psychological harassment, harassment or sexual harassment is being investigated, the person subjected to the undesirable behaviour will be given the chance to leave a statement of the events.

The accused party will be able to provide their view of the events. It may also be necessary to gather information from other people who have made observations or have information to give.

When all parties have provided their perspective of events, an assessment will be made of if the occurrence can or cannot be regarded as psychological harassment, harassment or sexual harassment.

Processing sensitive information in the investigation

An investigation means that sensitive information will be processed.

As a standard, information from the investigation may only be made available to the investigator, the person subjected to the undesirable behaviour, the accused party, other university employees who need information to conduct their work, and potential witnesses.

Cases of harassment, sexual harassment or psychological harassment must always be documented and recorded in the registry. This means that documentation becomes official documents that the general public can request copies of from Umeå University according to the principle of public access to official documents.

If someone requests an official document from the University, a confidentiality assessment is made before the copy is disclosed.

Potential preventive and punitive measures

Regardless of the assessment is that harassment, psychological harassment or sexual harassment has taken place or not, the manager with work environment responsibilities will decide on measures to improve the work or study environment. What measures are appropriate is based on the conclusions reached in the investigation.

If the investigation shows that some form of harassment or other form of misconduct has taken place, the manager in charge must take individualised measures. This could, for instance, be a clarifying conversation with the person who has exposed someone else to violations, stating that such behaviour must end immediately.

The University may also decide on preventive measures to avoid staff from being subjected to similar events in the future.

If the harassment or psychological harassment is regarded as severe, or if it continues despite the measures introduced, the case must be reported to the Staff Disciplinary Board (PAN) or to the Student Disciplinary Board.

These boards have the authority to decide on individualised punitive measures due to staff or student misdemeanour.

If you wish to remain anonymous

If you, after having been subjected to undesirable behaviour, wish to make your report anonymously, the University is still obliged to investigate and prevent further harassment.

However, it may be difficult to take suitable measures as the accused party will not be given the chance to respond to the allegations.

Neither can the University decide on and implement any individualised measures. In such cases, the University can only implement general preventive measures.

Latest update: 2024-01-10