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Confidential advisers for undesirable behaviour

Confidential adviser for undesirable behaviour

Speak to a confidential adviser if you experience undesirable behaviour while studying at the UvA. Contact details, information about the different kinds of confidential advisers at the UvA, and their roles and responsibilities, are provided below.

The UvA should be a safe environment for all its students, staff and visitors. We do not tolerate any type of undesirable conduct, including sexual and general harassment, aggression, bullying or discrimination.  Anyone affiliated with our university as a student, employee or visitor contributes to a mutually respectful treatment, regardless of origin, religious belief, sexual preference, handicap, position or job. The UvA also has a Code of Conduct that applies to everyone who works or studies at the university.

Although the UvA aims to prevent it, you may be confronted with undesirable behaviour during the course of your studies. Undesirable behaviour can cause stress and mental and physical health problems. If this is the case, it is important not to keep it to yourself but to talk to someone. You can always contact one of the confidential advisers for undesirable behaviour.

Please note that, despite the current corona measures it is still possible to contact the confidential advisers. You can call or email them to arrange an appointment via Skype or Zoom.

Role and responsibilities of confidential advisers for undesirable behaviour

The confidential advisers play an important role in promoting a safe study and working environment. They are the first point of contact for students and staff who experience undesirable behaviour or witness misconduct and can help them look for a solution. They can also provide support and guidance to students or staff who wish to submit a formal complaint to the complaints committee.

The confidential advisers follow the Guidelines of the Netherlands Association of Confidential Advisers. Any questions or complaints are treated in the strictest confidentiality, and they will only undertake action if the student or staff member wishes it and gives their explicit permission.

Responsibilities of confidential advisers

  1. To provide a confidential, open and easily accessible possibility to report undesirable behaviour
  2. To provide support and assistance to students and staff who have experienced undesirable behaviour
  3. To help the person reporting the behaviour look for a way to resolve the undesirable situation and provide guidance in this process
  4. Where necessary to refer them to other specialists inside or outside the university

Confidential adviser for academic integrity

The UvA has special advisers for academic integrity. If you have any questions or suspicions relating to academic integrity violations you can turn to them and they will treat them confidentially. You can find their contact details, as well the Netherlands Code of Conduct for Research Integrity and information on the UvA’s Academic Integrity Committee here: 


The UvA has an Ombudsperson, Jacqueline Schoone. Staff and students can turn to the ombudsperson when there is a need for independent, impartial and confidential investigation, including advice or mediation, in connection with their work or study at the UvA. This might be when they've encountered problems in the cooperation between individuals or conflicts in the workplace, when undesired behaviour has become a structural and long-term issue.

Frequently asked questions about undesirable behaviour

  • What is undesirable behaviour?

    Undesirable behaviour occurs when a person (or group) crosses your personal boundaries. it is behaviour that makes you feel uncomfortable and/or unsafe. It is hard to provide a definition of undesirable behaviour as this is always subjective and the boundary is different for each person.

    The legal definition of 'undesirable behaviour' mentions the following forms of undesirable behaviour:

    • Sexual intimidation: this includes any form of verbal, non-verbal or physical behaviour with a sexual connotation that violates your personal integrity. Examples are unwelcome forms of touch, sexual allusions or comments and stalking.
    • Aggression and violence: this can be physical, verbal or psychological in nature (e.g. putting someone under pressure by saying 'there are plenty more who want your job').
    • Bullying: repeated behaviour of one or more persons targeting an individual. It can take the form of gossiping about someone, ignoring and/or excluding someone.
    • Discrimination on the grounds of religious belief, political orientation, race, sex, nationality, sexual orientation, marital status, age or handicap.
  • What can you do if you experience undesirable behaviour?

    In the first place you can try to resolve the situation yourself, maybe with the help of a friend, fellow student, colleague or supervisor. You can also contact one of the confidential advisers. Don't keep the problem to yourself, as this can cause stress and be damaging to your physical and mental health.

  • In what kinds of situations can you ask a confidential adviser for support?

    You can contact the confidential adviser if you have experienced any kind of work or study-related undesirable behaviour. That could be behaviour on the part of staff, students but also other people you come into contact with in the course of your work or studies at the UvA. The undesirable behaviour need not have occurred at an UvA location.

  • What can a confidential adviser do for you?

    The confidential adviser is there to offer initial support and guidance. he or she will take the time to listen to your story and will help you look for the best solution for your specific situation. The confidential advisers know the UvA well and can help you work out the advantages and disadvantages of the possible steps you can take. In any case you are the one who decides what happens at all times. A confidential adviser can also provide support and advice when engaging the person responsible for the behaviour in conversation, or they can appoint a mediator at your request. If necessary the confidential adviser will refer you to other specialists who can provide further support and assistance.

  • Who can call on the services of a confidential adviser?

    All students and staff (whether employed directly or indirectly by the UvA), as well as others who carry out their work at the UvA (as caterers or cleaners for example) can contact a confidential adviser if they experience undesirable behaviour. At least one adviser has been appointed for each faculty or organisational unit, but you can also contact an adviser in another faculty or unit if you are more comfortable with that. The UvA has confidential advisers for students and for staff.

  • Can I trust the confidential adviser and will they believe my story?

    The confidential adviser has a duty of confidentiality that is comparable to a doctor's patient confidentiality. Anything you tell a confidential adviser will be treated with the strictest confidentiality. All reports received by confidential advisers are registered in anonymised form. A confidential adviser will never undertake action without your explicit consent. A confidential adviser will take you at your word, as listening to your story and providing advice is what they are there for.

  • Are there situations in which a confidential adviser cannot help me?

    There can be reasons why a confidential adviser cannot help you him or herself. For reasons of privacy they may not be able to give you their precise reasons, but it could be due to prior knowledge or because they have a personal connection to one of the persons involved in the situation. The confidential adviser will refer you to one of their colleagues.

  • What kind of support or guidance falls beyond the scope of the confidential adviser?

    The confidential adviser is not a whistleblower or mediator and they cannot help you with a labour dispute. In the case of a labour dispute or legal questions you can contact the confidential adviser for individual legal position (see the contact details above). You can also get support from the UvA's psychologists (for students) or from the occupational health service (for staff) if you are having problems dealing with negative effects of the undesirable behaviour you experienced.

  • Can I make a complaint?

    You can submit a formal complaint to the UvA's Complaints Committee. A confidential adviser can advise you on the complaints regulations and complaints procedure. They can help you formulate your complaint and support you during the procedure.

  • How can I contact a confidential adviser?

    You can contact a confidential adviser by phone or email, but preferably by phone. They will then contact you as soon as possible. Keep your message as short as possible, and only share your report with people you trust.