Music academy survey: 8% of students report sexual behavior from staff

An anonymous student survey conducted at Jāzeps Vītols' Latvian Academy of Music (JVLMA) Council mentions that 8.2% of respondents have experienced sexual behavior from academic staff, and 33.6 percent have heard someone tell or report coming into contact with such behavior at the academy.

“This figure is alarming and indicates the systemic nature of the problem, not some cases,” the academy council said in a statement sent out on March 13.

"In 2017, when a case of sexual harassment broke out in the press, the rector [Guntars Prānis] was chief executive of the Ethics Commission and knew there was a problem in the establishment. Student survey data also proves the problem. The Council has information that one of the girls speaking on the TV show [Latvian Television's Culture Shock] has claimed the rector knew about what was going on for a long time. Similarly, on the day the Council expressed no confidence in the rector, several Council members met representatives of JVLMA students who said they still did not feel safe at JVLMA," JVLMA Council members said.

It is also stated that, unfortunately, there is no sign that the rector offered the help of a psychologist to female students who testified.

"In the Republic of Latvia, the police are investigating only the testimony of physically injured people, but sexual violence is a much wider phenomenon which, in my opinion, is ignored by JVLMA leadership. The Rector claimed at a press conference at the Ministry of Culture that he had a plan to address the existing situation. That's not true. The Council asked the Rector for such a written plan on Monday March 11 because it did not exist. The Council has also recommended to the Rector a number of concrete actions [...]. The plan has still not been submitted to the Council,” the statement said.

The Council notes that it is not true that the academy has not been contacted by law enforcement in the past: “Seven years ago, then-rector Artis Sīmanis immediately approached the police after receiving the submission.”

The Council is also alarmed that the atmosphere of intimidation will continue at JVLMA: “One Council Member has spoken to one student on March 11 who has made disturbing statements about what is happening in one department but is now reluctant to communicate and wants to remain anonymous.”

The Council also reiterates that until the LTV program “Culture Shock”, it did not know anything about the situation in the academy. The Rector had not informed the Council. The Council now has information that the rector had already received an application from a specific student with the name of a specific teacher at the beginning of February.

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