We work to ensure a safe work and study environment2023-09-11
Karlstad University is currently dealing with a situation that has received a lot of media attention. It is, of course, in the interest of the university to ensure a safe environment for our teachers and students, but any measure we take must comply with our regulations.
In brief, the situation involves an online activist with an explicitly right-wing nationalist agenda who has been admitted to a course in intercultural studies with a focus on racism. The student’s presence in the course and his comments about the course and the teacher in social media have provoked strong reactions among staff and students as well as the general public.
As the executive management team, we find it sad that there are students who register for a course with an ulterior motive. We fully understand the frustration of teachers, students and the public in relation to this situation. We are also saddened by the polarisation and populism that is spreading in society and manifesting itself in very unpleasant ways. It is a sad development.
As the executive management team and management of the university as an authority, we promote the core values of Swedish government authorities and the rules and norms that come with these values. The rules are clear in terms of harassment and disruptive behaviour in relation to teaching, but there is a lack of tools to manage situations like the one we are facing at the moment where there are no concrete grounds for disciplinary measures.
This was also confirmed by the Minister of Education in an interview with Dagens Nyheter on 8 September, where he states that universities and university colleges need greater powers to expel students from higher education. In the interview, he also notifies that there are plans for stricter legislation, describing the current legislation as outdated.
In the past week, the university has received several messages from people who have followed the media reports and who feel that the university management has taken a passive approach. We do not share this opinion and want to paint a more nuanced picture of the situation.
In the case that Karlstad University is provided with information about events that fall under the grounds for disciplinary measures as stipulated in the Higher Education Ordinance, we will act. There have been no reports of disruptive behaviour, harassment or threats in connection to teaching, not from teachers or students.
If the universities – as announced by the Minister of Education – are given powers to deal with behaviour that has an indirect impact on teaching of the type reported in the media in connection with this matter, we will take action accordingly. It is, of course, in the interest of the university to ensure a safe environment for our teachers and students, and to use all available means to counteract even indirect disruption of our teaching activities. However, this must comply with university regulations, regardless of how we feel about the situation.
As an employer, we work actively to ensure a safe work environment in different ways. Out of consideration for those affected, we cannot go into details of individual cases, but in general it is about keeping in contact with employees and students, listening and meeting any needs in compliance with applicable regulations, offering counselling, adapting work tasks, as well as implementing various safety and security measures that the situation requires. In matters of security, we of course also work together with the police and other law enforcement agencies.
Jerker Moodysson, Vice-Chancellor
Margareta Friman, Pro-Vice-Chancellor
Patrik Larsson, Pro-Vice-Chancellor
Anne-Christine Larsson Ljung, University Director