The Stockholm School of Economic’s investigation regarding the volations of Section 2 of the Disciplinary regulations, in connection with the “heckling” that took place prior to the 2015 elections to the board of the student union, has now been concluded. The temporary suspensions have been lifted and the affected students have received a warning in accordance with the sanctions prescribed in Section 3 of the Disciplinary regulations.
I am pleased that the student union takes the incident seriously and that it has presented an action plan that has the support of the student union as well as the School. The student union had already begun to work thoroughly on its values, targeting specific cultural expressions and behaviours that have no place at our School. It has also initiated its own disciplinary investigation and appointed a working group tasked with evaluating how this situation could arise and how student union elections should be organised in the future. The School will be represented on these working groups, and I am convinced that these efforts will lead to sustainable change and renewal within the student union.
But this is certainly not enough. As I have mentioned several times since taking on the role of president, undesirable structures remain in various areas that affect work within the School. We know that too few of our professors are women. We know that we have fewer female applicants to the School than we would like. We know that there are individuals who perceive that their gender and background impedes their work as faculty members.
Personally, I know that certain individuals perceive themselves as being discriminated against – I myself have been involved in a matter that was investigated by the Equality Ombudsman (”DO”). DO made the assessment that no discrimination had taken place, but the fact that certain individuals felt discriminated against is a sign that we need to continue our process of change. I also know that among the faculty, we must strive to make everyone aware of unequal structures and provide practical classroom examples.
The measures taken by the School and the student union are extensive, yet we need to do more. We have our Female Faculty Booster Programme, an initiative aimed at achieving more female professors, but it is not enough. We have revised our communication and launched initiatives such as SSE Sisters and Handels 24 to encourage more women to apply to our programmes. Over the year, we launched a number of sweeping reforms: We have hired an equality and diversity manager tasked with increasing the knowledge among employees and students, striving for a norm-critical perspective and drawing attention to and helping to prevent undesirable structures.
We have established an ethical council with external representatives and an equal opportunities council that discuss several issues, including those related to discrimination. We have introduced mandatory training in gender awareness among our employees. The student union and the School work together on these councils.
Our our curriculum for the foundation course has been revised, and from the autumn of 2016, our principal bachelor programme will include a track called Global Challenges, which aims to increase the students’ ability to view themselves as part of a greater context, focusing on our common global challenges. We have also established a new sustainability centre, MISUM, headed by Lin Lerpold. Through MISUM, we ensure that sustainability aspects (including social and cultural issues) are a natural part of the education provided so that these aspects will be included in the decision-making processes of our future leaders.
The ongoing process of change is longed for, and we sometimes feel frustrated when results do not appear as fast as we would like. But it is important to remember that cultures and structures cannot be fundamentally changed overnight. I am convinced that this process of change will affect our operations on many levels, and I am incredibly happy that the School is a multifaceted school with thriving academic freedom, that it strives to attain a culture that respects different views and that our employees stay on for many years as they enjoy working here.
The School is not a closed community – we are part of a society in constant change. We must therefore keep pace with our times and bear in mind that the School’s role in society is to drive developments forward. Unequal structures get in the way of such developments, so it is the utmost importance that we work together to dismantle them.
President of the Stockholm School of Economics