This was shown in a report by confidential advisor Marijke Dam. Dam calls the increase striking. ‘It appears that internationalisation plays a role in these reports, especially among students’, she concludes.
According to the confidential advisor, the reports cannot simply be attributed to intercultural differences. ‘It could also be because people feel more vulnerable in a strange country: they’re alone, they encounter someone who abuses that fact, et cetera.’
Of the sexual harassment reports, four were from female students, and five were from female support staff. There were also reports filed by two PhD candidates (one male and one female) and two research personnel (one male and one female). According to the confidential advisor, it is hard to pinpoint an exact cause for the increase in reports. Especially among students, there appears to be a link with the internationalisation of education, according to the report. ‘This goes both for Dutch students who encounter problems abroad, for instance during an internship, and for foreign students who mainly run into problems with their fellow students.’
Code of conduct
Dam has forwarded some of the reports to the complaints committee Sexual Harassment, Aggression, Violence, and Discrimination (SIAGD). ‘Without going into too much detail, I think we can safely conclude that not every manager is aware that they serve an exemplary function when it comes to social safety, and that they know what suitable behaviour constitutes. And thanks to social media and things like that, people have extra opportunities to make others’ lives miserable’, she says.
The line between the professional and private sphere is easily crossed online, Dam thinks. ‘Students and employees sometimes forget that the social manners that exist offline should also be respected online.’ The confidential advisor therefore advises the university to instate a code of conduct for online interactions. Dam: ‘I know proposing regulations sounds patronising, but it will make things clearer.’
The board of the university was unavailable for a response at the time of publication.