Since October, the #metoo-movement has put the spotlight on sexual harassment in everyday context, at work places, and in study-related situations. According to a survey conducted by Sentio, commissioned by Universitas and the Norwegian Student Organisation last year, as many as 12 percent of the respondents had experienced unwanted sexual attention from a peer or staff. That is over 30,000 students nationally.
We can’t pretend that we don’t have our share of reported cases.Emil Lundal, SBIO president
Focus on information and cooperation
In order to tackle these problems, many institutes at the University of Oslo have introduced new preventative measures and reporting systems.
«Leaders of the buddy program at all faculties have been given courses to draw lines and raise awareness about the power relation between buddies and new students,» Sarah Frost Logan, a leader of the buddy secretary at UiO, said.
They will pass this information on to other buddies before the buddy week starts. This year, organizers have been better than last year at informing students of the Guard- and Alarm Centre at UiO, as well as what the center can help with in case of unfortunate incidents during the orientation period.
«Together with Oslo Metropolitan University and BI, we have developed our own portal for buddies, ‘sikresiden.no,’ where clear guidelines on how to handle sexual harassment at arrangements are stated,» Logan said.
Guidelines at sikresiden.no provide information about what can be perceived as sexual harassment. You can also find three points that elucidate what you can do if you are sexually harassed at work or in study-related situations.
BI Norwegian Business School has also had incidents of sexual harassment.
«SBIO is a large student organization with a high number of members. We can’t pretend that we don’t have our share of reported cases,» Emil Lundal, the president of the Student Union at BI Norwegian Business School in Oslo (SBIO), explained.
For the start of the next school year, BI has planned to focus on prevention of sexual harassment at the introduction meeting for buddies, which all buddies must attend. The school is also attempting to reduce the focus on alcohol by cutting down the number of events involving alcohol and increasing alcohol-free arrangements during the buddy week. Additionally, inappropriate drinking games will be struck down with a heavy hand.
«We will reduce economic support for the consumption of alcohol,» Lundal added.
The school has been working on three main points: preventing inappropriate behavior, facilitating safe reporting of incidents, and standardizing how cases are handled. The leadership at SBIO has the authority to ban students who have exhibited inappropriate behavior from future SBIO arrangements.
«The Me Too movement has led the SBIO leadership to communicate more clearly to students that reports can be sent to us and that we will handle reports safely and seriously,» Lundal said.
We have noticed that people are more aware.Thorstein Sjursen, DNS director
DNS takes action
Universitas wrote 13 Jan. this year about a serious after party incident at Chateau Neuf that ended with Trgyve Haaland, then-DNS chairperson, resigning. It was also said there had been other unfortunate incidents at previous after-parties. Thorstein Sjursen, a DNS director, says that DNS has now taken action.
«We have implemented new guidelines for the reporting of cases. These guidelines are more or less ready and the work around them is finished,» he said.
The new guidelines entail new formal and anonymous channels to report unwanted behaviors. It involves several contact people, not just the leader of DNS. Sjursen says people at DNS have noticed a change lately.
«We don’t know if it is the consequence of Me Too, or the incident we had in January, but we have noticed that people are more aware,» he said.
According to Sjursen, reporting has become more open, and it’s easier to bring up incidents, both for the staff and volunteers, as well as students who use the student society in general.
«Several cases were brought to the surface, after the event,» he added. «They are not of the serious kind, but I have handled them appropriately.»