Everyone of us is both a leader and someone experiencing leadership of others, depending of the situation. We are also peers of others. In all of these roles we may come across situations where borders between wanted and unwanted behaviour may be unclear or, more or less clearly, overstepped.
Therefore it is important to have an open (working) atmosphere in which wanted and unwanted behaviour can be and is discussed.
Especially people who are in a dependency relationship to others are vulnerable with respect to unwanted behaviour, especially if the person they are dependent of has a lot of power and influence. This applies to many within WIMEK, since there are many PhD candidates who function in an environment where they are supervised by scientists with a strong academic reputation. This might make it harder to stand up against the person who oversteps your personal boundaries or get the proper support, as this person might have an important scientific and organisational position.
At the same time, you are part of a working environment that should be safe for all. Whatever your position, you have options to act and contribute to your own well-being and that of others:
- If you are the subject of unwanted behaviour: discuss it with the one who oversteps your boundaries, with friends or colleagues, or go to a confidential advisor.
- If you suspect someone else to experience unwanted behaviour: talk to them and ask if and how you could help.
- If you fear that you yourself may have overstepped a line: ask for feedback from the person concerned, or from someone else. Sincere apologies might work miracles, provided that the unwanted behaviour stops.
EB statement on sexually transgressive behaviour
The stories on sexually transgressive behaviour in the world of entertainment, followed by reports of similar behaviour in the sectors of politics and sports, have impacted us and have sparked discourse within our organisation. This came in addition to disturbing data from Amnesty, among others, about sexual assaults on students. Immediately after this, our confidential advisers reached out to students and employees and, in cooperation with the mayor, our rector magnificus has started talks with student associations.
WUR stands for a safe study and working environment, both physically and socially. We are aware of the fact that a university and research environment is no different from entertaianment, politics and sports, and that sexually transgressive behavior may also occur within our WUR community. We, too, are familiar with power differences and thus with circumstances that make addressing sexual undesired behaviour difficult.
We do not tolerate sexual intimidation or transgressive behaviour in any way or situation. We take reports extremely seriously, and each incident is one too many. We, therefore, ask you to report incidents and address others so that, together, we can ensure a safe work and study environment in which everyone feels free to speak up against boundary-crossing behaviour.
This is a joint responsibility that must be anchored in our culture. A safe environment calls for continued focus and attantion.
Louise O. Fresco, Arthur Mol, Rens Buchwaldt
Help and support
Are you faced with sexual intimidation or other undesired behaviour? You will find information on what support and assistance WUR can provide on the intranet page Support and Mediation.
For students, a special topic with this information has been added to the MyWURtoday app.