Joint harassment reporting system in academia considered

Minister of Education and Science Anda Čakša (New Unity) has proposed a review of the codes of ethics of universities and to create a more unified reporting system. Culture Minister Agnese Logina (Progressives) also believes that the reporting system should be strengthened, Latvian Radio reported on March 19. 

After the Latvian Television broadcast "Culture Shock" revealed cases of alleged harassment at the Jāzeps Vītols Latvian Academy of Music, LTV reported that complaints had also been received about the Art Academy. One of the complaints concerned alleged harassment of female students by docent Andrejs Amelkovičs. He had previously been suspended for several months for indecent remarks on the internet, but the rector, Kristaps Zariņš, had previously said that a report and a warning were needed to dismiss an employee.

LTV had also received information about the alleged harassment in real life, not only in correspondence. Ameļkovičs himself, however, denied that he had crossed boundaries with female students after his reinstatement. Female students of the Academy of Art were previously invited to address the Vice-Rector, Antra Priede, about the case, including anonymously. Priede said that so far, the testimony of the female student about the alleged misconduct has been clarified and by the end of the week an assessment is being made whether the lecturer should be suspended.

The Minister of Culture did not comment on the case and said that it was the university's responsibility to deal with it, together with the police if necessary, but after a meeting with the rector, she concluded that the university was looking into the problem and understood the ethical boundaries. But the broader solution to the culture of universities in general will be discussed on Friday.

However, the university is conducting an anonymous survey of students in general about such incidents at the institution later this week and next week. The university also believes that safe reporting options should be strengthened and more investment should be made in psychological support to ensure that higher education institutions have such confidants for students.

Since the news of alleged sexual harassment at Jāzeps Vītols Latvian Academy of Music appeared in the public domain, similar allegations have also surfaced at other higher education institutions. Therefore, the Minister of Education and Science Anda Čakša urges universities to review their codes of ethics as well, as they are currently different. She also does not rule out the creation of a single reporting system outside the institutions.

The Ministry of Education is waiting for a report on the existing reporting system from the university councils under its authority by Friday, and a meeting with university representatives is planned for next week to discuss it.

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