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Dignity and respect in the online learning environment

Consult the toolkit

In our student days, the way we treat each other can determine our own enjoyment and sense of safety and that of others. It can also have an effect on study results.

During your studies, you will use a variety of online environments such as WhatsApp groups for your study programme or association, Kaltura, Brightspace and MS Teams. These form part of your learning environment. Be aware that your behaviour in these environments can also affect others. Make sure to participate in a manner that is both constructive and appropriate for an academic learning environment. Together we can contribute to a pleasant and safe learning environment for everyone at Leiden University. For this reason, we’d like to share a few tips that you might not have considered as often in your private online environments.


Academic freedom and freedom of expression

Leiden University attaches great importance to academic freedom. Academic freedom ensures space for conducting research, reporting findings and developing teaching. There are a number of basic principles in place for undertaking research and teaching: honesty, diligence, independence and responsibility. For these, freedom of expression is a prerequisite. In this respect, a founding principle within our university community is that statements and perspectives may not offend, humiliate, exclude or discriminate against others.

What are the limits?

Gossip, bullying, discrimination, offensive language, exclusion and (sexually) inappropriate behaviour are not acceptable, either online or offline. Racism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism and sexism are all forms of transgressive behaviour. Exclusion and discrimination can take the form of intentional unequal treatment but can also be indirect. Prejudices can play out in everyday life, both online and offline. Comments, jokes and statements that reinforce prejudices and assumptions can have consequences for both you and others. Treating each other with respect means treating each other equally. Do not, through your behaviour or remarks, belittle people, treat them unfairly, or make jokes about them.

Support and advice

Have you experienced something unpleasant in one of the online environments? There are a number of people you can turn to for support and advice.

- from a Dutch phone: call 113 (free and anonymous)
- from a non-Dutch phone: call your country's hotline www.suicidestop.com/call_a_hotline.html
- or chat online via 113.nl or your country's online chat service

Header and footer image by Margriet Osinga.



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