Anyone studying or working at ZČU who feels that their rights have been threatened by any discriminatory behavior within the institution can approach the ombudsman.
His responsibilities include overseeing the creation and maintenance of social security, investigating complaints, mediating disputes, and conflicts. This is the role of the ombudsman at the University of West Bohemia in Pilsen (ZČU) since January 1 of this year. Anyone at ZČU who encounters any form of discrimination can turn to him. Petr Šimon, who has been responsible for equal opportunities and non-discrimination at ZČU since 2021, has assumed the role of ombudsman.
According to Rector Miroslav Lávička, although universities are currently intensively addressing how to reduce the risk of a recurrence of the tragic December events at the Faculty of Arts, Charles University, they must not forget other essential elements of safety, including the issue of creating and maintaining social security.
"With the establishment of the ombudsman's function, our university has joined the ranks of other institutions that have introduced this position earlier. We want to clearly state that we consider any form of bullying, aggression, intimidation, sexualized or gender-based violence, or discrimination as unacceptable. We want ZČU to be an environment based on respect, equality, and openness for students and employees alike. The ombudsman, along with members of the Ethics Committee, is an independent and impartial person guaranteeing social security at ZČU," says Rector Miroslav Lávička.
Anyone studying or working at ZČU who feels that their rights have been threatened by any discriminatory behavior within the institution can approach the ombudsman. Even those who have witnessed such behavior can report it. "Currently, this can be done via email or by phone, and arrangements can be made for a personal consultation. Trust boxes for submitting potential complaints will be installed on the ZČU campus in January. We are also preparing the option of anonymous submission of complaints through an electronic platform," says Petr Šimon.
The contact details for the ombudsman are available on the Social Security page on the ZČU website, which guides students and employees through the entire process and provides them with essential information. A glossary of social security terms clarifies individual concepts, and individuals can learn what to do if they need help or want to submit a complaint to the ombudsman.
The ombudsman can address problems through mediation, which should result in an agreement. However, he can also submit a complaint to initiate an investigation into a violation of the Code of Ethics or initiate disciplinary proceedings. "In addition to the Ethics Committee, cooperation can also be established with the Information and Counseling Center at ZČU if psychological assistance is needed. However, I would like to emphasize that maintaining confidentiality is a fundamental condition," warns Petr Šimon.
Cases related to plagiarism, on the other hand, are not within the ombudsman's competence.
In addition to investigating complaints, the ombudsman at ZČU will focus on prevention through training, seminars, discussions, and other activities related to popularizing the topics of social security and equal opportunities. "I will build on what I and my team have prepared in recent years. I collaborate, for example, with representatives of all parts of ZČU, student associations, or the Feminist University Circle. It is also a matter of exchanging experiences with ombudspeople from other universities," adds Petr Šimon.
Mgr. Petr Šimon
- He has been serving as the ombudsman at the University of West Bohemia in Pilsen since January 1, 2024.
- He graduated from the Faculty of Education at ZČU.
- Since 2008, he has been professionally focused on activities and projects related to equal opportunities, education, and culture.
- He has been responsible for equal opportunities and non-discrimination at ZČU since 2021.
- In 2015, he was appointed a Knight of the Order of Academic Palms (a French decoration for merits in education, science, and culture).