Safety is an interest of ours

This blog is written as a part of JAMKO and Jamk’s together Equal and United University of Applied Sciences (YYamk) project by project coordinator Stella Palassalo. The project continues until the end of this year.

Everyone’s equal treatment, mental health services and being heard and seen. These are the things that new students wished for the most when they were asked “How do you define a safe University of Applied Sciences?”. The question wasn’t easy especially when they had been in the new school only for a couple of days. The students were however interested in discussing and they were listening closely when we talked about a safe environment and atmosphere while studying.

Everyone wants to feel safe. For some people, kind staff creates safety and for others flexibility and taking into account one’s needs or respecting boundaries. Students want to know that they are an important part of the community regardless of their starting point or background and that things are addressed. “You see something, you say something”, wrote one student. Also friends, open health services and visibility of harassment contact persons can affect the feeling of safety.

To advance safety we need everyone’s effort. And if not special effort then at least understanding. No space is profoundly safe or unsafe which means that spreading awareness is one of our most important tasks. When you are aware of your surroundings, yourself and others, you can act intentionally to advance a safer space.

JAMKO has taken seriously the creation of a safe atmosphere and environment and built our own principles of safer space. Not only as a guidance paper or to say that “Yes we have this kind of thing”. No. We have involved student’s community in discussing how to advance equality and what things affect it. We have together with staff and board members discussed how we can with our own actions and definitions of policy to advance the development of a safe community.

The principles of safer space are not created so that someone else would make a safer space for you. Especially in the beginning of this year the phrase was thrown around that if there is one racist in a table and nine people are quiet about it, then there are ten racists in the table. The same idea can be applied to building a safe space. Students are loud about their rights and wish that they are taken seriously when talking about appreciation, respect and kindness. It applies to other students and staff also. It makes it especially hard to build a safe environment if things fall apart when facing the first hardships.

Jamk hasn’t turned its back to creating safety but taken the matter as seriously as JAMKO has. Jamk will create their own principles of safer space and part of the work are Jamk’s well-being and guidance personnel, teachers, JAMKO-actives and both international and Finnish students. Working together is both in Finnish and English so that every participant can feel welcome and understood.

Would you be interested in making Jamk safe? Would you like to participate in creating a safer study experience? Message to join!

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