The campaign against sexual harassment #metoo and the appeal #dammenbrister in Finland has exposed the problem with sexual harassment on an unprecedented scale. Harassment has also been uncovered in Finnish institutions of education.

“The University of Helsinki does not condone any type of harassment, bullying or inappropriate treatment of others. We want to express our warm gratitude to #dammenbrister and all the brave testimonies from people who have been victims of harassment”, says Pertti Panula, Vice-Rector and Chair of the university’s equality committee.

All students and staff have the right to a safe and comfortable work and study environment. Every supervisor and teacher at the university is obligated to intervene if they become aware of harassment. The University has guidelines for cases of harassment of an employee or student.

“We encourage everyone to report all harassment immediately. You can inform your supervisor, harassment contact person or the occupational safety and health representative. Students can report to a teacher, department director or the harassment contact person”, says Terhi Somerkallio who is one of the university’s harassment contact persons together with Timo Valtonen. 

“The Student Union also has two harassment contact persons. Students can contact anyone of us”, Somerkallio adds.

All reported cases of harassment will be addressed. Both the victim and the perpetrator of the alleged harassment will be heard in the process. If the harassment is substantiated, steps will be taken. If the perpetrator is an employee, the consequences may relate to their employment status. Victims of harassment will be offered support from occupational health care or the Finnish Student Health Service. More information and guidelines for how to report inappropriate behaviour and harassment in the university community can be found on the university’s intranet.

Few cases are reported at the university, sometimes not even one per year. However, the harassment contact persons may not be informed of all cases, as units may choose to handle them independently.

“The remarkable involvement that #metoo and #dammenbrister show that these questions have not been adequately discussed. The university, too, needs to continue improving a safe work and study environment for its students and staff”, says Panula.

More information about the university’s work for equality and diversity here.

Contact information for harassment contact persons:

Terhi Somerkallio, University of Helsinki
050 415 1635
terhi.somerkallio@helsinki.fi

Timo Valtonen, University of Helsinki
050 448 9668
timo.valtonen@helsinki.fi

Juhani Turunen, Student Union of the University of Helsinki
050 551 6146
juhani.turunen@hyy.fi
 
Hannele Kirveskoski, Student Union of the University of Helsinki
050 543 9608
hannele.kirveskoski@hyy.fi

Vice-Rector Pertti Panula, Chair of the equality committee
050 448 0901
pertti.panula@helsinki.fi