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One Year After #MeToo

12/10/2018

A year has passed since #MeToo began its rapid advance through social media throughout the world. The American actress, Alyssa Milano, sent out a tweet as a reaction to the decades-long pattern of harassment by film producer Harvey Weinstein of actresses and his employees.
A storm of outcries about sexual harassment and sexual assault against women in various industries gathered strength, especially in the cultural sector. What has happened at the Stockholm University of the Arts (Uniarts) since the various #MeToo protests? Have we summoned the strength and the will to make the positive changes called for by the #MeToo movement?

Uniarts has a responsibility and we have always taken issues regarding bullying, sexual harassment or insulting discrimination with utmost seriousness. In conjunction with the #MeToo movement and the enormous extent of the problems it uncovered, we have intensified our efforts to prevent discrimination, insults and attacks on one’s integrity at our school, and by extension, in the industries we are preparing our students to join.

On 8 November 2017, Uniarts announced some of the objectives of our #MeToo efforts:
- We intend to be active and break the prevailing culture of silence.
- Even during our education, we intend to lay the groundwork for working relations that are secure and based on gender equality.
- We intend to contribute to changes in those industries in which our students will be working.
- We will ensure that everyone who comes to our university will feel that they are in a safe, welcoming and inclusive environment.

During the past year, we have arranged discussions and activities focusing on how we can prevent discrimination and insulting behaviour against both students and employees at Uniarts, as well as how we can act to create a good study and work environment. Some of these efforts were begun prior to #MeToo, while others started afterwards. We are continuing to work on many of these with a long-term perspective. Here are a few examples of what we have done and what we are doing:

  • Conducted discussions, lectures and workshops at student meetings, personnel meetings, administration meetings, department and collegial meetings. Special training programmes for administrators and supervisors have been held.
  • Reviewed and modified the introduction programme for new employees and doctoral students so that it now contains more discussions and information about harassment and abuse.
  • Held discussions with representatives of those industries we work with and arranged seminars and meetings, such as ”Open Space, How Can We Overcome the Culture of Silence?”
  • In cooperation with the Royal Institute of Art, we have hired a student representative whose duties include attending meetings, assisting in disciplinary matters, formulating letters, reports and complaints, if any, with a view toward protecting the rights of students.
  • Produced a detailed policies and procedures to be used in cases of bullying, sexual harassment or insulting discrimination directed against students and employees, respectively.
  • Created and distributed two easy-to-read brochures and distributed two quick reference guides that are based on the above-mentioned policies and procedures, for students and new personnel, respectively. It is now a required routine for all new students and new personnel to familiarize themselves with these quick reference guides.
  • We participate in various networks, such as Swedish Film Schools Against Sexual Harassment, and have read ”An Opportunity to Take Part in Bringing about a Change” – a report by the Commission against Sexual Harassment in the Performing Arts, published in 2018.

Where do we go from here?

Our efforts will continue in the same direction, as this has become a natural part of our work. With continual updating and dissemination of knowledge, scheduled courses in areas such as LGBTQ Certification and Non-discrimination, networking, coordination and advocacy, change is possible.

There is an interview with Josette Bushell-Mingo, Head of the Department for Acting, which was broadcast on Kulturnytt on Channel P1, Swedish Radio, on Friday, 5 October 2018.