During the consultation hour, students, PhD candidates and employees are offered a low-threshold opportunity to discuss undesired behaviour and social safety. ‘Everyone who has questions or concerns is welcome’, says project manager of social safety Joyce van de Velde.
The consultation hour is part of an extensive initiative to make the work and study environment safer, says Van der Velde. ‘We launched a contact point that can be accessed by phone and email in November, and since this month, we also have walk-in consultations. Students and employees who reach out to the contact point or report at the consultation hour can be referred to the most suitable person for their complaints, such as the ombudsperson, confidential counsellor or student psychologist. Van der Velde: ‘Who is the best person to address your complaint depends on the issue. But there are also people who don’t need to be referred, who just want to get advice or discuss an issue. Both students and employees reach out to us.’
The consultation hour is held in room 030 in Forum, which is also where the student psychologists have their consultation. ‘The room is not in plain sight, so you don’t have to worry about people seeing you go in.’ The contact point and consultation hour aim to lower the threshold for reporting social safety issues. ‘We offer various options and consider what people feel most comfortable with. We want people to contact us in a way that makes them feel safe. The people who came in during the first few walk-in consultation hours stated that it felt better than phoning or sending an email. There is certainly a need.’
Code of conduct
Those who visit the consultation hour are often looking for some type of standard, says Van der Velde. ‘Something happens, and you wonder: what’s going on? How should I address this? Must I accommodate the other person, or is it the other way around? These are things we discuss.’ Reports and questions are also directed at the contact point, which has been available for longer. ‘For example, by people who are accosted on the campus. This ranges from being followed on the campus at night to cat calls. Bullying is also something that occurs frequently, and if it is reported, we can act.’
Both the contact point and the consultation are part of the Looking out for each other plan, which aims to improve social safety at the university. As part of this plan, a code of conduct for social safety is also being drawn up. ‘Standards change’, says Van der Velde. ‘Things that used to be normal no longer are. A new code of conduct serves to provide everyone at the university with a standard for “normal” behaviour and boundaries.’ At the same time, she sees that opinions on boundaries differ per person. ‘What one person may see as a joke can be offensive to someone else. That is something we need to discuss, even if these discussions are difficult. Discussing boundaries prevents them from being transgressed.’
The consultation is held in room 030 in Forum from 12:45 to 14:15 hrs each Tuesday.