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Aalto University and student union leaders: We call on everyone to take action against gender discrimination

The university community has no place for the belittlement of, contempt for, or discrimination against women, say Aalto University and Aalto University Student Union leaders in their statement. Aalto and the student union work hard to ensure our community is open and accessible, and affords equal opportunities to all. We deeply regret that members of our student community have experienced unfair treatment.

Aalto University is a multicultural community with many voices and we want to defend the values of equality and diversity. The university community has no place for the belittlement of, contempt for, or discrimination against women. The university can best serve society when everyone is equally heard.

In recent days social media has brought attention to inappropriate behaviour towards women in student culture. Discriminatory actions have always been wrong and they continue to be wrong today, regardless of when or in which field they have occurred. They can appear quietly in situations that belittle women or when stereotypical gender roles are revived and repeated. Each and every student and personnel at Aalto University has the right to a safe environment.

Aalto University systematically follows how equality is being realised in recruitment, admission exams, teaching, and evaluation. Aalto has trained and instructed staff to notice hidden biases, and to promote equality in operations, recruitment processes and communications. Our aim is to reduce differences between fields of study, and promote the equal treatment of students. Employee and researcher mentoring, coaching, and on-boarding have been renewed, so they can better support equal opportunity career paths. The university has also developed processes to intervene in harassment and inappropriate behaviour so that the threshold to report is as low as possible. Aalto is committed to continuing this work.

The Aalto University Student Union (AYY) trains organisations yearly in equality through its own operations as well as in collaboration with the university. The student union is now compiling guidelines for event security and safer spaces, which will be used to train its own members and organisations. The student union also intends to train its own volunteers on how to intervene in harassment. It will also continue the discussion about equality in student culture together with organisations.

We need courage for discussion and dialogue. Get to know these topics yourself and together with your closest circles. Raise issues related to equality and inclusivity in your own Aalto community. The university offers wide-ranging information, guidelines and training on advancing equality and taking a stand against discrimination.

We can all advance equality in our day-to-day lives. If you experience, see or witness inappropriate behaviour, intervene immediately – we all play a part in our community’s wellbeing. You can also get in contact with the student union’s harassment contact people, who will support and help you forward. Read more here.

Ilkka Niemelä, President, Aalto University                         
Olli Kesseli, Chair of the Board, Aalto University Student Union 
Kristiina Mäkelä, Provost, Aalto University                      
Milja Leinonen, Vice Chair of the Board, Aalto University Student Union                                  
President's Management Team, Aalto University             
Aalto University Student Union Board

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