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A safe study and working environment

The UvA is comitted to providing a positive study and work environment in which we treat each other with respect, nobody feels unsafe and everyone can develop their talents. Students and staff must have the opportunity to address concerns, dilemmas and complaints within the UvA. They must feel they are safe to do so and that their report or complaint will be taken seriously. We want everyone to be assured they have a safe basis for their work or studies and, if necessary, to conduct difficult or critical conversations.

  • Working on social safety

    Social safety is a broad concept, ranging from a strong culture in which people can hold others accountable, to transparent, accessible complaints procedures and the establishment of clear boundaries for conduct. Overstepping these boundaries is never acceptable. Students and staff must have a means at their disposal to raise concerns, dilemmas and complaints at the University. They must feel safe in doing so, and have confidence that their report or complaint will be taken seriously.

    The (recent) past shows that improvements are required. The Executive Board is fully focused on responding effectively to reports and complaints. Consequently, we are making great strides with various actions already under way. These are outlined below.

    The Social Safety Memo (March 2021) contains an overview of the current state of affairs concerning social safety initiatives between 2019 and 2021, as well as the actions that will be taken from 2021.

  • New regulations and other social safety actions

    Strengthening social safety is a constant concern and focuses on information and awareness, help and support and the system of reports and complaints. Over the past two years, we have considered and improved our system and procedures for reports and complaints of undesirable behaviour (see information on new regulations below). In doing so, we also make use of the recommendations of the External Committee on Social Safety and the Taskforce on Social Safety, the Participation Council, the Senate, the Chief Diversity Office (CDO) and various other bodies.

    Examples of actions:

    • A new code of conduct has been drawn up.
    • An external reporting point for undesirable behaviour has been set up.
    • We have made information on social safety more readily available, including the support guide for students and the support guide for employees.
    • The complaints procedure has been made more suitable for complaints about social safety.
    • The position of ombudsperson has been permanently established.
    • The regulations for confidential counsellors have been revised and adapted.

    New regulations on ombudsperson, confidential advisers and complaints (November 2021)

    New regulations have recently been adopted for the ombudsperson, the confidential advisers for undesirable behaviour and the complaints procedure. These regulations go into effect on 1 November 2021.

    New regulations regarding ombudsperson

    Every (former) staff member or (former) student can contact the ombudsperson. The ombudsperson advises, mediates, investigates, adjudicates and/or refers. The ombudsperson also has an important role in signalling developments and patterns within the school and organises regular consultations between relevant actors in the field of social safety. The ombudsperson has the authority to gather information within the organisation. As of 6 September 2021, Samera Ouchene is the ombudsperson. Read more about the ombudsperson.

    New regulations regarding confidential advisers for undesirable behaviour

    A coordinating confidential adviser will be appointed, in addition to the existing advisers. The coordinating confidential adviser will act as a sparring partner for the other advisers, coordinate the activities of the internal network of advisers, ensure the independent positioning of the advisers in the faculties and central units and monitor the workload of each counsellor.

    New Complaints Regulations

    It was already possible to submit complaints, but the period for complaints regarding undesirable behaviour has been extended to three years in the new complaints regulation. The regulation has also been improved, based on experiences in recent years. For example, the Committee can be expanded with an expert on the subject of the complaint. It is also possible  to submit a complaint confidentially (via the confidential adviser). More attention is also being paid to aftercare. With regard to the definition of undesirable behaviour, reference is made to the University of Amsterdam's code of conduct.

  • Directing social safety strengthening activities

    From September 2020, Lucienne Kelfkens has been appointed to coordinate activities aimed at strengthening social safety at the UvA.

    Lucienne Kelfkens
    Lucienne Kelfkens

    On the one hand, the focus is on improvements to our system and our procedures for dealing with reports and complaints of undesirable behavior. In addition, more emphasis is placed on prevention and awareness. Social safety is a broad concept, ranging from an ethical culture in which problems can be discussed, to transparent and accessible complaints procedures and the setting of clear boundaries for behavior. In addition to good procedures, recognizing, discussing and preventing undesirable behavior is essential. That is why work is also being done on a study and work environment in which we hold each other accountable for behavior and managers are equipped to respond adequately to signals.

    For an overview, see social safety actions and the overview memorandum with spearheads and actions for 2021. In doing so, we make use of recommendations from studies and reports, such as those from the Social Security Task Force and from the external committee.

    Contact:

    You can send an email with general questions or comments about strengthening social safety.

    Lucienne Kelfkens is in contact with, among others:

    • Samera Ouchene - Ombudsperson
    • Saskia Voortman - Legal affairs
    • Chief Diversity Officer Team
    • Robert Grem - Director of HRM
    • Peter Boelsma - HR policy and strategy
       

    Support:

    • Karen Wansink - Board Secretary
    • Leontine de Klerk - Internal communications