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Safe social setting on campus

VU Amsterdam is an open and welcoming place to study and to work. Appropriate conduct is integral to the safe and positive environment we create and take active measures to maintain. Social safety is a prerequisite for being able to study or work effectively and enhances student wellbeing. VU Amsterdam does not tolerate any form of discrimination, intimidation, bullying, sexual harassment or other behaviours that violate our values.

We believe it is important for students and staff to feel safe. Do you experience unwanted behaviour or feel unsafe on campus, off campus or online? Report it.

  • Is there reason to take action because of an unsafe situation, for example?
    The social safety coordinators are here to take action and rectify an unsafe situation. Below - at 'Social Safety Hotline' - you can read more about this.
  • Is no immediate action needed, but do you need someone to talk to?
    You can contact the confidential counsellors for students or for staff and PhD students for a listening ear or if you want advice on possible steps to take. 
  • Has a procedure not been followed correctly?
    If procedures are not followed correctly, for example after you have reported an unsafe situation to the supervisor or academic advisor, you can turn to the ombudsman. 

On this page, you can read about the forms of undesirable behaviour and what we can do for you if you encounter it.

Get in touch with the Social Safety coordinators

Charlotte Holtkamp: (+31) (0) 618869645 | or Rosanne van Kampen: (+31) (0) 615832514 |

Social Safety Hotline

  • What can I report to the social safety coordinators?


      • What it is:
        If you are regularly hassled by another person against your will, you may be a victim of stalking. Stalking is a very intrusive form of annoyance and intimidation and can be a criminal offence. If you are being stalked, it is important not to keep it to yourself. Contact the social safety coordinators for help.
      • What you can do yourself:
        If you no longer wish to have contact with someone, make it clear to them, via WhatsApp or by email/letter. If the person still persists, it is a criminal offence and you may wish to consider reporting it to the police. The police will then interview the stalker in order to bring a halt to it.
      • What we do:
        The social safety coordinators can provide you with good advice and assistance. We will also conduct a risk assessment. Since no two situations are the same, we will draw up a plan of action with you. Sometimes, we will enlist the expertise of the local police officer or a forensic psychologist in order to gain a better understanding of your stalker’s behaviour.
        Further information about stalking (leaflet ‘If you are being stalked’ in Dutch): Folder 'Als u wordt gestalkt'.pdf (

    Prolonged and persistent complaints

      • What it is:
        Another form of stalking involves the prolonged and persistent expression of grievances or complaints. The purpose of this is not the complaint itself, but to keep your attention. It can sometimes take on extreme forms and cross the line. There are examples where lecturers have to deal with individual students who persistently complain. When the aim is no longer to reach a solution, this may constitute a form of stalking.
      • What you can do yourself:
        If you suspect a case of persistent complaining, discuss it with someone you trust and ask them for their opinion. Does this behaviour really cross the line? If you are unsure, or feel intimidated or uncomfortable about it, contact one of the social safety coordinators.
      • What we do:
        The social safety coordinator will discuss the issue with you and will be able to assess whether it is a case of persistent complaining. We can provide you with advice and draw up a plan of action. In it, we will point out how best to deal with the situation and suggest some dos and don’ts.

    Sexual harassment

      • What it is:
        Sexual harassment can take many forms. You may have to deal with sexually suggestive comments or it may be non-verbal. Perhaps someone is trying it on with you against your will. Derogatory remarks can also be a form of sexual harassment. Sexting, which involves the sharing of photos or video without your permission, is a criminal offence and ‘slut-shaming’ is also a form of sexual harassment.
      • What you can do yourself:
        Set boundaries and put yourself in a place of safety. Confide in someone and talk about it. Keep evidence. Contact the social safety coordinators.
      • What we do:
        The most appropriate help depends on the context in which the situation has occurred. Sometimes, we will refer you to the Sexual Assault Center (Centrum seksueel geweld) and sometimes we will contact the police. It is also possible that the suspected culprit is a VU student or member of staff who is making you feel unsafe. We will draw up a plan of action to ensure you can feel safe again. This is always done in consultation and you will remain in control at all times.

    Sexual violence

      • What it is:
        One in every eight women and one in 25 men will be a victim of sexual violence at some time in their lives. Between the ages of 12 and 24, the risk of rape is four times as high. These are shocking statistics and compelling reasons for focusing on the prevention of sexual violence. We believe it is important for victims of sexual violence to report it in order to enable appropriate assistance to be provided. If you are a victim of sexual violence, you may experience concentration problems, PTSD or symptoms of depression. It can become more difficult to study or work.
      • What you can do yourself:
        Seek help. Tell your story to someone you trust. This may be a fellow student, colleague, academic advisor, confidential counsellor, lecturer or social safety coordinator.
      • What we do:
        We are in close contact with the Sexual Assault Center, the police (and vice squad) and the student psychologists. If you contact us, we will assess what type of help is most appropriate for you and guide you towards that help. If you find it difficult to contact organisations yourself, we will do this for you or help you in the process.
        Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam has signed the Amnesty International manifesto against sexual violence. By signing it, the University is accepting its responsibility to tackle the problem. The manifesto features a description of an ideal university where students feel safe, are aware of the facts and myths about rape and consent and know where to go for support. The manifesto also contains six concrete pledges – steps that the University intends to take to achieve this. Read the manifesto
        If you are a victim of sexual violence, do not keep it to yourself – seek help. You will find details of where to find that help on this page.
        You can find more information here: Help for victims of sexual violence - Sexual Assault Center

    Honour-related violence

    • What it is:
      Honour-related violence is committed because family members feel that family honor has been compromised. To restore honor, men or women are disowned, threatened, or assaulted.
    • In what situation you can contact us:
      If you refuse to marry someone against your will.
      ▪ If your family won't let you get a divorce.
      ▪ If you are in a relationship with someone from another culture.
      ▪ If you are afraid of kidnapping by your family.
      ▪ If you are in a homosexual relationship.
      ▪ If you are dealing with exposing, sexting or any other form of sexual harassment.
      ▪ If you are being monitored and your freedom is being curtailed.
      ▪ If you feel threatened by your family for any other reason.
    • What you can do yourself:
      Are you dealing with honour-related violence? Or do you know someone who is in trouble and is looking for help? You can go to the Kenniscentrum Eer & Veiligheid (Honour & Safety Knowledge Centre) for advice and help with family honour issues. Do not wait until things get worse or go wrong! Do you need help immediately? Then call 088 234 24 50 (7 days a week, 24 hours a day). In case of immediate danger, do not take any chances! Always call 112. 

      The Honor & Safety Knowledge Centre staff will also hold a walk-in clinic at VU (location HG 0E.71A) on the following days in 2023:
    • 11 and 23 January
    • 8 and 20 February
    • 8 and 20 March
    • 5 and 17 April
    • 3, 15 and 31 May
    • 12 and 28 June
    • 10 and 26 July
    • 7 and 23 August
    • 4 and 20 September
    • 2, 18 and 30 October
    • 15 and 27 November
    • 13 December

      The time is from 2:00-4:00 pm. It is not necessary to make an appointment. You may have to wait for a while because someone else is in the room. Complete confidentiality applies to these conversations. We understand very well that confidentiality is of great importance.

    Inappropriate behaviour online

      • What it is:
        There are increasing incidences of people experiencing inappropriate behaviour via WhatsApp or social media. Examples include racist messages on social media, sexist comments in WhatsApp groups, or messages from fake accounts. These can be hurtful and make you feel unsafe. It can also be a form of bullying.
      • What you can do yourself:
        Make it clear that you find the message annoying and that it offends you. Keep a record of the messages. Talk to other people about it. Consider blocking the sender of the messages. Report it to the social safety coordinators.

    Suicidality or confused behaviour

    Do you need help now? 113 suicide prevention is here for you 24/7. Call 0800-0113 free of charge or chat on

    Are you worried about a (fellow) student, a teacher or a colleague who is expressing suicidal thoughts or showing signs of mental health issues? VU Amsterdam has produced a guide to give you some tools for how to act in this situation. This guide can be used by employees, PhD candidates and students. Feel free to pass this link on to anyone you know, especially anyone you think may need it.

    Do you need help yourself? VU Amsterdam offers support for mental health problems. Students can contact the Student Wellbeing Point and consult a student psychologist. Employees can obtain counselling from one of our occupational social workers. This support is mostly temporary and related to your studies or your work at VU Amsterdam. For long-term support, you should consult your general practitioner.

  • Report inappropriate or worrying behaviour (this can also be done confidentially or anonymously)

    Unfortunately, our students or staff members occasionally find themselves confronted with worrying or inappropriate conduct. Details of the action you can take and who you can turn to for help or advice are given below.

    This includes the opportunity to report your concerns anonymously, as we fully realize that reporting a possibly harmful situation can put you at risk. Our goal is to restore a safe situation. We do this based on the duty of care we have for you as a student or staff member. This duty of care applies to you, the person who communicates or wants to report this behaviour, but also to the person who displays this behaviour.

    You can report worrying or inappropriate conduct to the VU Social Safety Hotline. You can do this via e-mail, WhatsApp or phone. Scroll down for the contact details.

  • What will happen when I make a report?

    Social safety coordinators make an appointment

    If you have asked to be contacted, then one our of social safety coordinators, Charlotte Holtkamp or Rosanne van Kampen, will get in touch to make an appointment with you. The purpose of the first appointment is to discuss the situation and the aim of your report. We explain that we are going to help you and what form that help will take. The contact details are at the bottom of this page.

    Risk assessment and action plan

    We often start with a risk assessment, to determine the extent of the risk present in the situation. After that, we turn our attention to drawing up an action plan. Members of the social safety expert team may also be involved at this stage. In some cases this can lead to a warm transfer to a confidential counsellor, for example, or the ombudsman or one of the external parties we work with. It may also be necessary to have a conversation with the person whose behaviour is the subject of the complaint.

    You remain in charge

    The person making the report always remains in charge, but the social safety coordinators can advise and, where necessary, supervise the process of restoring safety for everyone involved. If there is an acute safety risk, immediate action can be taken.

  • Social Safety Expert Team

    Expertise in the area of social safety

    Of course, our social safety coordinators do not handle reports of worrying or inappropriate conduct alone. In order to resolve a situation in a careful and responsible manner, use can be made of the expertise of the employees who form the social safety expert team. This is done anonymously, so that the report is not traceable.

    Who is on the expert team?

    The expert team includes staff from across VU Amsterdam who are both experts in their own field and also have an affinity with social safety. They include a student psychologist, the ombudsman, a diversity officer, a spokesperson, a legal expert, the head of P&O, confidential counsellors, the head of mobility at the international office, academic advisors and social safety coordinators. They may be asked to provide input to help resolve an incident. This creates an integrated approach and an extensive network, preventing situations in which students (or staff) are sent from one possible source of help to another.

  • Reporting through a confidential counsellor or student psychological counsellor

    If you report a situation to a confidential counsellor or student psychological counsellor, they can also bring the situation to the expert team. This is done anonymously unless you give permission for names to be disclosed.

  • External parties

    In the field of social safety, we cooperate extensively with external partners, such as the police (including the vice squad, if relevant), the Public Prosecutor, mental health organization GGZ inGeest (especially in cases involving psychological problems and risk of suicide), a forensic psychologist, Blijfgroep (specialized in domestic and honour-related violence), Centre for Sexual Violence, 113 suicide prevention, and the Dutch probation office. Sometimes it is necessary to bring in external partners in order to properly resolve a situation or transfer it to a relevant authority.

  • Help, support or advice

    If you’re looking for someone to talk to about other questions or concerns, or if you need help or advice with a conflict situation, please visit the referral pages. There is one for every group at VU Amsterdam:


    PhD candidates 


    The support matrix gives you the same information in a diagram. 

Confidential counsellors

  • Confidential counsellors for students

    The Executive Board is keen to ensure that VU Amsterdam offers a safe and pleasant environment for all students. Sexual harassment and other forms of undesirable conduct (violence, intimidation, aggression, bullying) will not be tolerated under any circumstances. Incidents are rare but not entirely unknown. VU Amsterdam therefore applies an active policy to counter all forms of undesirable conduct. Special 'confidential counsellors' have been appointed. There is also a formal complaints procedure and an investigating committee.

    VU Amsterdam has appointed Confidential Counsellors for students. They can be contacted via the email address

    Currently, all conversations with the confidential counsellors are by telephone or via Zoom. If you would still benefit from a live conversation, please contact us. 

    • Fatiema Khadje, +31 (0)20 59 82094
    • Mariken Blom,  +31 (0)20 59 85027
  • Staff and PhD counsellor

    The confidants offer a listening ear and can offer support in raising the issue of undesirable behaviour. The confidential advisors treat what you tell them confidentially: they do nothing without your permission and knowledge. 

    There are central staff counsellors and decentralised counsellors who are exempted by their faculties or departments for part of their time to assist staff and PhD students. You are free to choose who you want to contact. A confidential counsellor can assist in submitting an official complaint to the independent complaints committee for undesirable behaviour. 

    Please find all information and contact details on Confidential counsellors staff and PhD's

Do you need help or advice?

Please contact the social safety coordinators