Experiences on harassment in student culture need to be taken seriously

Last weekend blogger Natalia Salmela started a conversation in social media on experiences of harassment, inappropriate behaviour and pressuring in student parties. Many joined to share their experiences on the topic. Student associations and events from Tampere were discussed, as well. Topics that came up in the conversation were clubs with gender- and invitation-based memberships, sexual harassment in events and different problematic traditions. Working towards equality is continuous work and experiences like this need to be taken seriously in the student communities.

In the Student Union of Tampere university, we do not condone any kind of harassment, discrimination, bullying, racism or inappropriate behaviour. Equality and preventive work against harassment are cross-cutting parts of our work in the Student Union. TREY’s two harassment contact persons handle harassment cases appropriately and with proper severity.

The public discussion on the topic has been welcome and proves that there is still work to be done in the student culture to further equality and prevent harassment. These themes have been in the societal discussion during the last few years and it shows that student associations have changed their activity due to this. We support associations operating within the Student Union in their work in rooting out unequal practices and traditions and preventing inappropriate behaviour.”, says the chair of the Student Union of Tampere University Annika Nevanpää.

Changing student culture to become more equal starts in becoming aware of the current situation and recognising and acknowledging the problematic traditions. TREY supports associations in their equality work by training on the topic, how to discuss harassment situations and interfering with harassment. The student community of Tampere has done improvement work and the ongoing discussion proves that there is still work to be done. We wish that these things will be talked about in the future, as well, to bring awareness to these kinds of problems in our community. By working together towards equality, we can make a better and safer student culture in cooperation with our associations.

In the public discussion there have been references to the equality project we have with associations that have an invitation-based membership system that operate within us. Linking this discussion to the project has caused misunderstandings, as well. We have set a transition period together with the clubs and they need to make plans to achieve set equality goals during this period. During the transition period, these clubs need to change their activity to be more equal and inclusive: gender is not a criterion for membership and the membership system should not be invitation-based. There is no transition period to preventing harassment. Everyone who has experienced harassment needs to get help timely.

During the weekend, experiences on some associations operating within us have been shared. These associations are taking part in the shared equality project, as well.

The ongoing discussion has brought up things from our club’s history that are problematic and we are aware of it being that way. We have done and are still doing work to develop our activity. The events that we are organising nowadays do not intend to foster problematic traditions. We try to reform our activity constantly. We do no accept harassment of any kind.”, comments Valtteri Paajanen from Blebeijit.

Our club is taking seriously all the experiences that have come up. We have previously pledged to develop our activity durably. We have recognised inappropriate cases from our club’s history and have handled these cases with everyone concerned. The responsibility of individuals has been emphasized between new and old members. We have paid attention to common rules in the introduction to new members and have made clear that harassment is not tolerated in our club.”, says Roope Jetsu from Rankat Ankat.

Don’t stay silent or alone in your experiences with harassment. There is always help if you need it. You can contact TREY’s harassment contact persons, healthcare professionals or different organisations. TREY’s two harassment contact persons give advice and support in cases of harassment.

More info on the equality project can be read in a separate article.

More information: Chair Annika Nevanpää (puheenjohtaja@trey.fi, 050 361 2845)