The end of this month will see the launch of a network of eighteen confidential counsellors as a pilot: seven for students and eleven for employees. They will be placed across the university’s faculties and departments. There are more confidential counsellors for employees than for students, because, as Blok has observed, experience shows more employees than students report complaints. He will remain the central contact point, most likely with a new colleague. Erasmus MC already had a few confidential counsellors, who will now join the new network. The pilot will be evaluated after a period of one year.
At the faculties, the new confidential counsellors are usually study advisors who have received additional training to take on the role of confidential counsellor. “We looked at each department to see who is already the ‘go-to person’ there when someone needs to talk about an issue affecting them. Those are the people you need.”
It’s your choice
Confidential counsellors can be approached for any behaviour perceived as undesirable. This could involve harassment, sexual harassment, aggression or physical abuse, bullying, discrimination, stalking or unfair treatment. The contact information for all confidential counsellors will soon be available online. For students, this information can be found on the public website, and employees will find this information on MyEUR intranet. “You can decide for yourself when choosing a confidential counsellor. The site also explicitly states that if you feel, for whatever reason, you would prefer a confidential counsellor outside of your own department, you always have that option.”
Expectations are that more confidential counsellors will lead to more reports. “Right now we’re looking at fifty to sixty reports per year. That’s just the tip of the iceberg,” believes Blok. He hopes that the network of confidential counsellors will also lower the threshold for reporting incidents. “Right now, people often don’t know who to turn to with their complaint. We hope to make the reporting process easier for them. We feel that the network will ultimately make an important contribution to the social safety of students and employees at the university.”