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MU Rector’s statement on situation at MU Faculty of Education

MU Rector Martin Bareš issues a statement on information related to the situation at the MU Faculty of Education.

MU Rector’s statement on the situation at MU Faculty of Education:

In recent days, very disturbing information has appeared in the media indicating that some members of the MU Faculty of Education have acted in a completely inappropriate and unethical manner towards some of its students. According to the information available to me so far, this may have been a long-standing problem dating back as far as 2013.

As Rector of Masaryk University, I must first and foremost condemn such conduct in the strongest possible terms. I find it totally unacceptable and abhorrent. I want to state clearly and unambiguously that such incidents must not and will not be tolerated at any part of Masaryk University.

With regard to the specific cases reported at the Faculty of Education, I confirm that allegations of inappropriate conduct by academic staff were previously investigated at the Faculty based on a complaint filed in May 2022. The management of Masaryk University began to deal with the case immediately after it was made public. As a result, I ordered both an immediate internal audit of the existing procedures at the Faculty of Education and an investigation into the specific cases reported. This investigation is still ongoing. I would like to assure everyone that other resolute steps will be taken based on its results to ensure that similar cases will not happen again and that persons responsible for any misconduct will be held accountable. I have also asked for the current methodologies and procedures for investigating and dealing with similar complaints to be independently reviewed and assessed.

As Rector, I have been assured by the new Dean of the Faculty of Education that her faculty management is dealing with the issue and that further necessary measures and steps are being implemented.

Masaryk University is an organisation comprising ten faculties and two higher-education institutes, where almost 40,000 people study and work on a daily basis. Sadly, it is impossible for an organisation of this size to completely prevent all misconduct and failures on the part of individuals to behave professionally and responsibly. However, I firmly believe that we as a university have long worked hard and systematically to make the working and study environment safe, fair and friendly. As one of the first universities in the Czech Republic, we have collaborated with leading experts in the field to set up a methodology governing our procedure in cases like these. We have trained specialists and implemented a system enabling confidential reporting and effective handling of similar incidents. At the same time, we have also made the necessary preparations for the establishment of the university Ombudsman and the selection procedure for this position was announced a few weeks ago. One of the Ombudsman’s tasks will be to harmonise procedures across the entire university in all areas involving the protection of people’s rights.

In conclusion, I would like to reiterate that all instances of suspected conduct and behaviour similar to the ones that have occurred at the Faculty of Education will be thoroughly investigated by Masaryk University, just like all other complaints. Likewise, I urge all those who may have encountered similar inappropriate conduct not to be afraid and contact the responsible staff or the management of the relevant university unit. I assure everyone that I will personally and strongly insist that all similar cases are always investigated and resolved and that the university leadership and the management of the individual faculties and other departments will continue to work together to ensure that wherever certain inappropriate stereotypes or ways of conduct are identified, the university culture and communication will respond and change.

Martin Bareš, Rector of Masaryk University