QR code in toilets should make reporting inappropriate behaviour easier

QR code in toilets should make reporting inappropriate behaviour easier

Student initiative may be launched before the summer in FASoS buildings

05-05-2022 · News

MAASTRICHT. Where can I go to report inappropriate behaviour at the university? Students and employees often don’t know. Student council members from the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASoS) therefore came up with an idea: a QR code that can help people on their way after an unpleasant experience. These should be available in the toilets of the FASoS buildings even before the summer.

By scanning the QR code – which will be on stickers on toilet doors – with your telephone, it will take you to the so-called linktree. This is an overview of links that refer you to web pages with more information. The linktree will be divided into various ‘categories’ of undesirable behaviour, such as racism and sexual harassment, which indicate where victims can seek help and report an incident.

Why the toilets? “That is a place where you can scan the QR code without being seen, so that you don’t need to explain to anyone why you did that,” says Helena Sanvicente, who together with Maaike van Uum proposed the plan in the FASoS council meeting – both of them being student council members– and subsequently developed it. “Besides, it is a place where people can go after they have experienced something unpleasant, to catch their breath and not be interrupted.”

Anonymous complaints desk

The idea was inspired by an initiative at student rowing association Saurus, where members can report undesirable sexual behaviour via a QR code in the toilet. Would something like that not also be possible in the university buildings, students from the Diversity, Inclusivity, Accessibility and Sustainability (DIAS) working group wondered after attending a UM conference on sexual misconduct in October. Research was presented here which showed that few UM students report unacceptable sexual behaviour.

A first proposal, in which people could anonymously report inappropriate behaviour, met with criticism from the Diversity & Inclusivity Office and the Faculty Council. An anonymous complaints desk is legally complicated and doesn’t help victims to move forward. Moreover, the existing structures work, even though students and employees often find it difficult to find them.

“Instead of adding an extra layer, we will now use the QR code to make people aware of the existing help and complaints desks and to present them in an ordered manner,” says Sanvicente. “They can see, for example, that you can also speak to a confidential advisor without immediately making a formal complaint. That is more or less what we also wanted to achieve with the anonymous complaints desk: lowering the threshold to speak about undesirable behaviour.” This should also help people who think that their experience wasn’t serious enough. “So that they not only make a report in the case of rape, but for example also when they feel uneasy because of inappropriate remarks,” says Van Uum.


The students hope that the QR codes will be in place in all 76 toilets in the FASoS buildings before the summer. Facility Services and the Faculty Council already agreed to the plan, the D&I Office checked the information in the linktree. The only thing left is an official approval by the Faculty Board. But Sanvicente expects that to be a formality. “It is not expensive to have the stickers printed and we can stick them on ourselves. Moreover, the board reacted positively to our plan during the council meeting.”

Should the initiative work well – for example, if it appears that more people at the UM find their way to the confidential advisors after unpleasant experiences – the initiators hope that it can be expanded throughout the university. Van Uum: “The links are not specific to FASoS, so it can be introduced quickly and easily in other places.”

Illustration: Pixabay

Tags: inappropriate behaviour,support,confidential advisor,sexual misconduct,intimidation,harassment,QR code,fasos,fasoscouncil,scan,instagram

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