Meet Stefan Vuurens: contact person for inappropriate behaviour
From 8 May to 17 May, the Wellbeing Week will take place! During this time, we will focus on feeling good (or better) and, of course, this includes having a pleasant study environment. It's a good opportunity to speak with Stefan Vuurens: Stefan has been the contact person for inappropriate behaviour since December, and he knows all about a safe study environment.
You have been working as the contact person for inappropriate behaviour for a few months now. What are your initial experiences?
It's great to see that students are already finding their way to me as the contact person for inappropriate behaviour. The students I have spoken with have given feedback that they appreciate being able to discuss their experiences in a low-threshold manner, especially if they are unsure if the behaviour is inappropriate. Discussing what happened and how it fits with the behaviour expected at the UU is very valuable.
In addition, my experience is that students who witness inappropriate behaviour also report it to me. I think that's great; it shows that students are watching out for each other. It's good that we work together to create a safe environment within the faculty.
What do you do when a student reports inappropriate behaviour to you?
A first report often comes by email. I think it's important to speak to the student in person as well. In the conversation, we not only discuss the experience but also what the student can do for a good next step. This can of course mean that a report is made to a confidential advisor. But there are often other things that can help. And sometimes, action can also be taken by the faculty to increase social safety.
It is important that the initiative for any further action remains with the student. So, just a conversation with me as a contact person is also no problem. It's about the student feeling heard.
Are you obligated to be contacted in case of inappropriate behaviour?
No, that is certainly not necessary. If you experience inappropriate behaviour and want to discuss it with the other person, that's only good. A conversation between the directly involved parties can often solve a lot. If you find it daunting or do not want to, it may be helpful to contact me for advice.
In addition, two confidential advisors are also working at the UU. They can also advise you, support you as a reporter, and assist you when you want to file a formal complaint. You can always contact them directly.
Can students also contact you if something unpleasant happens outside the university?
The UU has outlined its expectations for how we interact with each other in the Code of Conduct. This includes expectations for professional and respectful interaction. We also think it's important to know when this is not happening within the UU so that we can act on it.
When something happens outside the UU, we can't always hold someone accountable. At the same time, such an event can affect your studies. For example, when you have an unpleasant experience at a party and have classes with that person. Or when unpleasant messages are sent in a group chat that also shares information about the study.
Even then, you are welcome to discuss this with me. It's good not to keep such an experience to yourself. I can think along with how you can deal with it and possibly refer you to help outside the UU.
Thank you, Stefan!
If you want to learn more about Stefan's work or would like to contact him yourself, please visit the page of the contact person for inappropriate behavior.