Bullying, harassment and inappropriate treatment are not acceptable in organisations operating under HYY. The organisations’ operation must be in line with HYY’s values and objectives as well as comply with HYY’s Equality Plan.
Individuals are not responsible for taking action against bullying and harassment, and individual responsibility should not be emphasised. Bullying is about abusing a power relationship, which may make it extremely difficult for the bullied person to take action against it or to bring it up due to anxiety or some other reason. It takes extraordinary courage to take action against bullying yourself right when it happens. For this reason, it is important to recognise that bullying and harassment are problems for the entire community and to focus on the community’s responsibility when taking action against them. As put forward in the previous section, bullying and harassment can be prevented by building a tolerant, open and respectful culture as well as practices that support the bullied person. When encountering inappropriate treatment, the operating models should consequently focus on what the entire community could do about it so that the bullied person would not be left alone with their experience in any event.
In case you experience or witness bullying, you should always bring it up and mention it to the bully as soon as it happens. It is important that someone brings up the matter: it shows that the entire community cares about it and that it influences everyone. Facing the bully should be done constructively and without laying the blame in order to create a mutual understanding of what happened and, hopefully, of future behaviour, through cooperation instead of conflict. In case the bullying continues, you should get help in order to get the situation to end. In particularly difficult and prolonged situations, getting outside help is a good idea. You should also remember follow-up on the situation.
It is very difficult to take action against harassment without support. Depending on the situation, it is possible that the person who experienced harassment does not want to make it clear to the harasser that they considered the harasser’s behaviour as inappropriate. The person may be a teacher, a supervisor, someone on the same course or some other person with whom cooperation is unavoidable. It is also possible that the person who experienced harassment does not have the resources to resolve the situation but still needs support and confirmation for the fact that what they experienced has been unjust.
Harassment situations are about a power imbalance and the harasser having the upper hand in the situation. In the event of harassment, it is almost impossible for the person experiencing it to act in a way that instructions emphasising individual responsibility would demand. Instructions that demand action from the victim of violence shift the blame from the perpetrator to the person experiencing it, thus reinforcing unequal operating culture in the premises in question.
What should you do if you experience or witness bullying?
- Tell the bully (or someone else) that their behaviour is inappropriate. Tell them that you do not accept their behaviour and ask them to stop. The person may simply not understand that they are behaving in an offensive manner. It is important to bring the matter up with someone so that it can be dealt with constructively.
- If the bullying continues, write down what happened and when, who were present and what was said. If the bullying occurs through messages, for instance, save them. This makes processing the matter later easier.
- If bullying occurs in connection with teaching, contact the teacher responsible for the course or another member of staff.
- If the bully is a member of staff, contact their superior, the dean or vice dean, the University’s harassment contact persons or HYY’s harassment contact persons.
- If bullying occurs in events, in organisational activities or on social media, contact – depending on the situation – the harassment contact person for the event, the board of your organisation, the board of the faculty organisation (and within these two, the person in charge of equality or the harassment contact person in particular) or HYY’s harassment contact persons, for instance.
- If your unit is unable to deal with the bullying, seek help from outside your study community.
- If you wish, you can also contact the FSHS or the University chaplains.
You can seek help from the party you feel is the most natural for yourself!