During the 2019-2020 academic year the Social Safety Taskforce will be working on strengthening social safety for staff and students. The Taskforce will inspire, encourage improvements relating to social safety and keep track of ongoing improvements.
In September 2019 the Taskfore started with drawing up an action plan and inventory of existing measures, initiatives and proposals to improve social safety. Memos will be drawn up for each of the following areas:
The Taskforce has been tasked with inspiring and promoting improvements relating to social safety at UvA, and monitoring ongoing measures. Faculty and staff in leadership positions have a special role in safeguarding social safety of all employees and students. One key objective is to raise awareness of social safety.
The taskforce is focusing on the following four aspects:
During the first months after its instalment the taskforce will be taking stock of current initiatives and cultural aspects of social safety in all layers of the organisation. The overview will identify good practices as well as blind spots in policy and culture and serve as a basis for developing further steps.
'Social safety touches an organisation's soul. It affects every employee and every student. Social safety is an integral part of power relations between all members of the UvA community – staff and students alike. It precedes everything we do in research, education and support. If something is amiss here, things fall apart. I would be very proud, as a member of the UvA community, to contribute to improved social safety for all our employees, PhD students and students.'
'Particularly in a competitive environment such as a university, it is vital that we treat each other respectfully, and that unsafe situations can be discussed in a safe manner.'
‘Social safety is something that affects everyone in the workplace. It is crucial that students and staff feel appreciated, respected and safe. These three values are the foundations of constructive and professional collaboration in which everyone knows exactly what their duties and responsibilities are. I feel it's important that we have an ongoing dialogue, in which we give each other feedback and so broach tricky or sensitive subjects as a matter of course.'
'Social safety is the most important precondition to allow both individuals and teams to perform well. At the same time, it's a topic that most people prefer to avoid. Raising the subject of social safety in a meaningful manner typically only works in environments that are quite safe to begin with. We are all aware of examples of unsafe situations, for ourselves or for others, in our own immediate surroundings, but we are insufficiently aware of the scale, nature and impact of the problem.'
It is important that we get a better view of what is going on. and investigate why people do not report incidents and under which circumstances they would be more likely to report incidents. It is also important that we present information and reporting options more prominently on the website, and see whether, by approaching the subject with a sense of humour and mutual understanding, we can maybe also make it easier for people to discuss smaller transgressions (which people do not necessarily associate with a loaded term such as undesirable behaviour).
'Social safety is an important theme to focus on because it concerns everyone within the university. People struggle if they don't feel safe. The UvA should be more than a place where people just work or study. It should be a place where people feel safe and at home. At the moment, not enough is being done to give all people this sense of safety. There are too many incidents that are being reported, and also too many incidents that aren't being reported. So it's vital that social safety is now being discussed so seriously at UvA, and that problems are being addressed.'
'Because it concerns trust and safety, and the most important component is credible, reliable and engaged managers at all layers of the university or faculty. Being part of a group (department, academic staff, support and management staff, management team, etc.) gives people an increased sense of safety and security, and thus gives them a greater sense of protection. This will motivate people to achieve something together, and to be there for each other. People start feeling unsafe when deviations from this standard are allowed to occur, people become cautious and no longer support each other.