The Guild of Physics does not tolerate harassment in any shape or form. The Guild is evolving continually, and its most important mission is to make sure that guild members feel safe and welcome in all guild events, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity or any other characteristic.
Harassment or inappropriate behaviour can take many forms. For example, it can be verbal or non-verbal insults, sexist or racist jokes, unwanted physical touching, threats, maintaining unwanted contact, excluding someone from the community or unfairly making it difficult to participate in its activities. Experiences of harassment are subjective, and what is offensive, distressing or perceived as harassment, varies from person to person. Therefore, what is most important is how the target of harassment perceives the situation.
At the moment, the Guild has four harassment contact persons who can be contacted in case of a harassment situation. All reported cases will be handled on the terms of the person affected. The Guild of Physics harassment contact persons have committed to act confidentially in harassment situations, respecting all parties involved.
All conversations with the harassment contact person that has been contacted are strictly confidential, and all conversations between the harassment contact person, the target of harassment and other people involved will remain private. In addition, the harassment contact person will not pass forward any information or take any action without the permission of the person who has experienced harassment. The harassment contact persons will not discuss any cases with each other without the permission of the target of harassment. The harassment contact persons can, however, discuss harmful topics among the Guild and guild members, in general, as long as no specifying details are shared.
In all guild events, the responsibility lies with the organizer, but interfering in harassment situations and maintaining a safe atmosphere is every guild member’s and event attendee’s responsibility. The aim is to take case-specific, carefully considered and low-profile measures, so that resolving the harassment situation remains confidential and primarily between the people involved.
Encountering harassment situations as a guild member
- Harassment is never the fault of the person affected and doesn’t have to be coped with alone. It is important that the harassment situations that have taken place come to the attention of the harassment constant persons.
- If you become a target of harassment yourself or witness harassment, try to let the harasser know that you want them to stop.
- It is always better to interfere than to watch from the sidelines, even if you are not sure what the right way to interfere is. If you do not want to interfere on your own, you can do it together with a friend.
- If you witness harassment in an event, you can contact the organizer of the event already during the event. The organizer can help to resolve the situation.
- You can always contact the harassment contact persons of the Guild or the AYY. You can contact a harassment contact person even if you are not sure whether the situation you encountered was harassment or not. For further investigations you should save, for example, the conversations on social media regarding the case.
- If the harassment situation qualifies as a criminal offence, contact the police.
- If someone remarks on your own behavior, reflect on your behaviour and prepare to apologise.
Processing harassment situations
- You can notify any one of the harassment contact persons of a harassment situation and all received cases will be processed.
- Harassment situations will not be discussed in board meetings. Instead they will always be processed by the harassment contact person, who has been notified of the situation. The process is always confidential, and it will not be discussed with anyone else without explicit permission from the target of harassment.
- The harassment contact person will proceed to work out the situation and decide on future processing together with the person affected and only with their explicit permission.
The following actions can be considered among others depending on the seriousness of the harassment situation:
- The party suspected of harassment gets notified that their actions have been perceived as harassment. All parties involved will be heard equally, and all conversations remain between the parties involved and the harassment contact person.
- The contacted Guild harassment contact person can also recommend and direct the person affected to contact, for example, a harassment contact person from the AYY, a professional from Finnish Student Health Service (FSHS – YTHS) or the police if the situation requires it. However, the person affected makes the decision to approach the aforementioned parties.
- If the harassment situation involves a person from the university staff, the contacted harassment contact person has an obligation to notify this to the person responsible for harassment situations in the university.
- The board of the Guild will only be notified of a harassment situation, if actions defined in the Guild rules, section 4, are needed. These possible actions are considered, if a guild member acts disturbingly or inappropriately within the Guild community*. Possible actions are:
- Warning: The board can give a warning to a person suspected of harassment.
- Participation ban: The board can give the suspected party a participation ban from all guild events, not including Guild meetings, with a maximum duration of six months.
- Termination of Guild membership: Harassment situations are always intended to be handled between the parties involved, but if the problems repeat themselves, the parties harassing others are not welcome into the Guild or its events. Termination of Guild membership is an action taken only on very serious grounds by decision of the board of the Guild in a way laid out in the Guild rules.
*This is a free translation of the Guild rules. The rules have not been translated, and no official document of the rules exists in English.