New Rector’s representatives
The position of the Rector’s representative for student and doctoral student safety and the Ombudsman for equal treatment and discrimination prevention at the University of Wrocław have been newly created.
Dr Karolina Kremens, who until now held the position of the Rector’s representative for student and doctoral student safety, will now focus primarily on her work within the Digital Justice Academic Excellence Hub. She will be replaced by dr Barbara Kowalczyk from the Institute of Administrative Sciences. Dr Kowalczyk works as an assistant professor at the Department of Comparative Public Administration and is a legal adviser. Her scientific interests focus mainly on migration law. She is the author of the monographs „Polski system azylowy” (2014) and “Migration Law in Poland” (2020). Since 2016, she has participated in the Consultative Forum of the European Asylum Support Office. She gives lectures, classes and diploma seminars at full-time and part-time studies, at the Doctoral College of Legal Sciences of the Doctoral School of UWr and at postgraduate studies. Many times she worked as a Visiting Professor at the Faculty of Law of Masaryk University in Brno. She is a member of the Senate of UWr for the term 2020-2024.
The position of the rector’s representative for student and doctoral student safety is relatively new at UWr. Dr Kremens is the first person in this position. How does she summarise her activities so far?
“During my time as the Rector’s representative for student and doctoral student safety, I had the honour of leading the UWr Safety Network formed by faculty student and doctoral student safety officers. During a number of meetings, we developed the basis for joint activities aimed at supporting students and doctoral students in various spheres related to physical, IT, psychological and health safety. Working closely with the UWr Equality Network headed by Ombudsperson for equal treatment and discrimination prevention at the University of Wrocław – dr Łukasz Prus, we have intervened at many levels to ensure the protection of the academic community and its members in connection with breaches of their safety, or even when this safety was still under threat.
A website called Helpful UWr was created; it gathers all institutions supporting students and doctoral students in one place so as to make a full information package available to them, making it easier for them to seek help when they need it most. It is worth emphasising that we have approached the issue of assistance and safety holistically, combining both psychological safety issues and special support for people with disabilities but also IT security, occupational health and safety and social assistance. I hope that this will be a living organism that will grow and change as the number of support activities offered at UWr to students increases, a good example of which is the updating of the website in connection with the adoption of the Recommendations for support in mental health crisis.
One of the most important activities I undertook was also creating, as a part of a team consisting of dr hab. Wojciech Jasiński from WPAiE and Dawid Piekarski – the head of the Department of Occupational Safety and Fire Protection and with the support of the Organizational Department of the University of Wrocław, “Evacuation procedures for people from the facilities of the University of Wrocław, taking into account the safety of people with disabilities and other people with special needs”. Our activities aimed to adapt evacuation procedures in force at the University of Wrocław to the needs of people with disabilities, a task that was realised as part of the project “The University of Wrocław – a fully accessible university by 2023″, co-financed by the European Union. I hope that the procedure will soon be adopted as a legal act binding at the university and will increase the safety of people with disabilities in situations involving their evacuation.
I also put a lot of effort into making sure that first-year students enter the new academic year 2021/2022 with renewed energy. In cooperation with the Department of Student Affairs, the Student Council and many stakeholders in the university. Adaptation Days for students were organised on 4-5 October 2021. Adaptation Days for students, during which representatives from the Equality and Safety Network under the motto #UWrEqualandSafe met new members of our academic community with a message of cooperation, tolerance and kindness. I am very pleased that we have been able to create mechanisms that I hope will allow students to find support in those moments when they need it.
Out of concern for the safety of our students and doctoral students, in terms of health, in cooperation with AZS UWr we encouraged to participate in the Academic Run 2021 organised by the University of Economics for a noble purpose. The Vice-Rector Tomasz Kalisz and Vice-Rector Dariusz Adamski, among others, encouraged students to take part in the competition, which is held individually due to pandemic restrictions, during a training session with our student Natalia Widawska – the UEFA U21 Championship in the 4 x 400m run. The effects of the training were shown on the UWr website, and as a result, a large group of not only students and doctoral students but also academic teachers registered for the competition and the best ones won prizes, including University of Wrocław sweatshirts.
I would like to express my warmest and sincerest thanks for the cooperation so far to all the plenipotentiaries from the Safety Network UWr with whom I have had the opportunity to work. I am also grateful for the joint activities of the whole Equality Network, especially to dr Łukasz Prus for his support and to the Equality Commission headed by dr Anna Śledzińska-Simon. I am also grateful to dr hab. Alina Czapiga and the Team for Students and Doctoral Students with Disabilities, the International Cooperation Office headed by Urszula Broda and the Vice-Rector’s Representative for Social Responsibility, dr Kamila Kamińska-Sztark. Finally, I would like to thank the university authorities, Rector Przemysław Wiszewski, Vice-Rector Patrycja Matusz and Vice-Rector Tomasz Kalisz for supporting my activities.
Despite my satisfaction with what has been done so far, I still feel a certain lack of satisfaction. I feel that not everything that has been started has been completed. We have been working on raising awareness of physical safety at the university, including first aid, as part of training for attorneys from the Safety Network and these activities should be continued. Also, the extent of cooperation between the University of Wrocław and the Police so far needs to be analysed, especially against the events of autumn 2020. Perhaps the most important of the challenges is the creation of informal action instructions for all university staff and learners in situations that threaten or already breach safety. The Equality Network has begun monitoring the patterns of action implemented in difficult situations in individual faculties and this work should be continued to strengthen the sense of security of both students and postgraduates and staff. It is not only the ad hoc elimination of problems but also the knowledge of how to react appropriately in difficult situations that increases the sense of security of all members of our academic community.
To the Rector’s new representative for safety, dr Barbara Kowalczyk, I wish good luck, patience and perseverance in all the activities she will undertake. And above all, I wish her attentiveness and good cooperation with all the entities that help and support students and doctoral students at all stages of their education at the University of Wrocław”.
Dr Łukasz Prus, the current for equal treatment and discrimination prevention at the University of Wrocław, will spend the next year on sabbatical. He will be replaced by dr Ariel Przybyłowicz from the Institute of Civil Law. Ariel Przybyłowicz is a doctor of law specialising in labour law and social security law. Since 2014 he has also been a legal advisor with experience in, among others, mobbing cases.
Dr Łukasz Prus has served as spokesperson since February 2020. He was the first person hired in this role at the University of Wrocław. He summarises his activities so far:
“In February 2020, the Rector of UWr, professor Adam Jezierski created the position of Ombudsperson for equal treatment and discrimination prevention at the University of Wrocław. My first tasks included the preparation of a draft internal anti-discrimination procedure. Based on this study, prof. Adam Jezierski, together with the Rector-elect, prof. Przemysław Wiszewski, on 18 August 2020 signed an ordinance on the introduction of an anti-discrimination procedure at the University of Wrocław, but also defining the rules of operation of the Equal Treatment Commission and the Ombudsperson for equal treatment and discrimination prevention at the UWr.
The Rector of UWr, prof. Przemysław Wiszewski obliged me to develop the concept of a network of faculty representatives for equal treatment, who were appointed by every dean and head of a university unit. Throughout my work, I cooperated closely with dr Karolina Kremens, the Rector’s representative for student and doctoral student safety at UWr, dr Alina Czapiga, who runs the psychological consultation at UWr, dr Kamila Kamińska-Sztark, the Rector’s representative for social responsibility at UWr, and the Department for Communication, co-creating a comprehensive system of support for members of the UWr community.
In numerous individual interventions, I assisted UWr students, doctoral students and staff in restorative justice processes aimed at upholding academic values and, where necessary, before the relevant state authorities. I also participated in research and work aimed at equalising opportunities for minority groups, as well as parents and foreign students at the UWr. I was involved in initiatives aimed at shaping civic attitudes, which are part of the university’s mission in accordance with Article 2 of the so-called Act 2.0. Together with representatives for academic affairs, safety and equality from other universities, I co-created a national advocacy network, which provides a platform for the exchange of experiences and good practices, and participated in the work of the European Network of Ombuds in Higher Education.
We would like to thank dr Karolina Kremens and dr Łukasz Prus for their work so far and wish them good luck in their future endeavours!
We wish dr Barbara Kowalczyk and dr Ariel Przybyłowicz good luck and much success in their new duties.