Public safety and undesirable behaviour: (sexual) harassment, discrimination and aggression
Everyone at the Amsterdam University of the Arts (AHK) must be able to work and study in a pleasant work environment. Security, empathy and mutual respect are vital in creating the right conditions for a productive and successful period of study. To prevent and deal with sexual harassment and/or aggression, the AHK has a Code of Conduct for Public Safety (PDF) appointed a number of confidential advisers and a Complaints Committee.
When is the line crossed?
Anyone can become the target of unwanted sexual attention. You might receive this kind of attention from a tutor, a colleague, a fellow student or someone you meet on your internship. The line between wanted and unwanted intimacy is not always easy to define. This is partly because of the nature of art education itself – the learning process involves considerable personal attention, and there is intensive contact between students, and between students and tutors. The line between wanted and unwanted intimacy is something everyone will need to decide for themselves. However, it should be noted that this line is partly defined by cultural and socio-political factors. Some people will pay little attention to a certain kind of behaviour, while others will find it unacceptable.
No means no
Sexual intimidation can be aimed at both men and women. Although in most cases, women are the targets. The behaviour may simply be unpleasant and irritating; but it might go much further. What you need to remember is that undesirable behaviour doesn’t always stop on its own; you may have to take action yourself. The first thing you should do is tell the other person ‘no’; tell them you find their behaviour irritating. This isn’t always an easy thing to do – you may need to confront someone in authority or someone on whom you are dependent. Abuses of power can also lead to intimidating behaviour that isn’t of a sexual nature, but which does cross a line. Unwanted behaviours don’t have to be specifically sexual. Aggressive behaviour, discrimination and bullying are all undesirable forms of conduct for most of us. And saying ‘no’ isn’t always enough. You can talk over the problem with another student, colleague or friend. Or speak to one of the confidential advisers at the AHK.
The confidential adviser is the first person you can turn to when you are the victim of sexual intimidation and/or aggression. The confidential adviser’s job is to help people who are the targets of unwanted intimacy to resolve the issue. Unless you specifically prefer otherwise, this process is entirely confidential. The confidential adviser will never take any action without first discussing it with you and asking your consent.
The confidential adviser will discuss whether the complaint should be submitted officially to the Complaints Committee. The confidential adviser will help to draw up the complaint, and will monitor the rest of the procedure. The complaint must be filed in writing, together with an outline of the steps that have already been taken. The complaint cannot be anonymous. The names of both the complainant and the person the complaint is against must be given. An official complaint can be filed within a one-year period – this applies both to staff and personnel.
Whichever direction you choose to take, if you experience sexual intimidation and/or aggression, the Amsterdam University of the Arts takes your complaints seriously and is here to help you resolve the situation.