Last week, we were dismayed to find that the “heckling” in connection with elections to the board of the student union at the Stockholm School of Economics included crude and sexist comments. The management of the Stockholm School of Economics takes a very serious view of the jargon that these comments exemplify.
Personally, I am immeasurably angered and disappointed. This behaviour is completely unacceptable and entirely incompatible with the type of educational institution I believe the Stockholm School of Economics should be.
I know that this behaviour is not representative of the School’s students. We within the School’s management maintain a close dialogue with the student union, continuously addressing issues involving values, fair treatment and what is permitted and what is not. The union is represented on virtually all decision-making bodies at the school, and we have established new bodies to catch anything that may have been missed, including an Ethical Council and a Fair Treatment Council. My own dialogue with the student union is intensive and the student union is well aware that the Stockholm School of Economics does not tolerate offensive behaviour of any kind.
The heckling has now been discontinued and should be considered a thing of the past. The Stockholm School of Economics has also decided to suspend the students responsible over the period in which the case is investigated by the disciplinary board. This year’s union elections will proceed but in a completely reorganised format. The student union is examining how these events were able to occur and how union board candidates can be presented and questioned in the future.
These are the urgent measures. Far more important are the profound and long-term efforts needed to remedy the obviously harmful culture and outdated traditions that persist among a group of students at the Stockholm School of Economics. Immediate actions include the management of the School requiring significantly greater insight into union activities, particularly in connection with major union activities, such as introduction week and union elections. All active union members will undergo a mandatory Diversity & Equality course when joining and, together with the union, we will critically evaluate traditions and assess whether they have outlived themselves. The School has already decided to introduce a new curriculum for the undergraduate Business & Economics degree effective from the autumn of 2016. On this programme, students will be trained to view their responsibility in a broader context. We will also further strengthen the arts and humanities as an important feature of the School. Research shows that this promotes personal growth.
A large majority of our students view the events that have occurred with equal distress and we are firmly resolved to prevent, once and for all, unhealthy traditions and cultures from impacting the School’s important work for Swedish business and competitiveness.
President of the Stockholm School of Economics