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Listen to Swedish KTH: Students may not “express political views, whether they are facts or not”

Felix, a student at KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, risks being expelled from the school after he passed a few facts about crime and immigration to two fellow interns. Free Times can now publish recorded conversations between Felix and KTH representatives – where the representatives admit that KTH has banned all forms of acts that could cause, for example, an immigrant to “feel offended”.

By – Brünnhilde

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“You must not spread political views. Whether it’s facts and regardless of its intention,” Annelie Fredriksson, study director at KTH, can be heard saying on the recording.

Free Times has previously reported of the KTH student Felix who risks discontinuing his engineering education after compiling a fact sheet on immigrants’ overrepresentation in rape cases and handed it over to two female interns, who had requested the information.

This fact sheet led study guide Annelie Fredriksson and KTH’s Human Resources Director Marja Mutikainen to initiate an investigation against Felix. After that, Fredriksson took the decision to report Felix for “disturbing action or harassment” to the disciplinary board – something that could risk his enrollment at KTH and his future in Engineering.

But Free Times can now publish the previously secret audio recordings of the talks between Felix and the KTH investigators, where Annelie Fredriksson acknowledges that she has made her decision solely because she is afraid of negative media attention.

During the talks, Fredriksson and Marja Mutikainen further argue that KTH has a policy that prohibits students and employees from expressing political views, in addition to the views that are part of KTH’s so-called value base.

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“You are aware that you cannot spread political views? Whether it’s facts or regardless of what its for, there is no place for that here at this school,” Fredriksson can be heard saying, among other things, on the recording.

“This is my workplace. If I say or express things that others do not think is good or that may exclude others, I would get fired,” Fredriksson continues.

When Felix asks where in the KTH’s rules does it say that no political opinion can be expressed, Fredriksson answers that it can be inferred from the school’s value base, or motto. However, a review of KTH’s so-called value base shows that no such ban exists.

“KTH has a value base based on democracy, people’s equal value, human rights and freedom, and free and open discussion,” writes college on its website.

“What rules have I broken? Can you tell me?” Felix is heard asking.

“It’s the same values for everyone,” Fredriksson replies.

A little later in the conversation she develops the reasoning:

“When people feel that they do not have the same value because of someone else’s opinions, then people do not feel like their worth is equal.”

Felix points out during the conversation that he simply reported the objective facts of a study on immigrant crime.

“Can facts be discriminatory?” asks Felix.

“It depends on which facts,” replies Marja Mutikainen.

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Felix also wondered how he could have offended anyone when the students to whom he had handed over the information, had requested it from him and were reportedly not offended. It was only after these students helped spread the research material, that others began to reportedly feel “offended”.

Mutikainen replies that this is irrelevant to her:

“It is enough that someone has heard or has been told about this information, that he or she may be declared violated or harassed.”

“Harassment or violations may be in the next step when someone else gets this information. If the people to whom you gave the research spread the information around, then it will eventually end up with people who will be offended when they read it. Then it will be an investigation that tries to figure out who originally began spreading this information,” she explains.

At the recordings, the KTH representatives emphasize that college students are free to have what opinions they want – as long as they do not express them.

“You may feel what you want. As long as you do not voice it, people will not be badly affected by it, “Annelie Fredriksson can be heard telling the student.

Fredriksson also explains that she herself does not think it is right to initiate disciplinary proceedings by expelling Felix, but because she is afraid that KTH will otherwise receive negative publicity in mass media and that she herself may suffer from reprisals:

“The media have been at KTH. They have questioned us ‘why did not you report this to the Disciplinary Board?’ after we decided that this should not proceed to the Disciplinary Board. What do you think happens to me if I do not do this?”

“So you mean according to you, you don’t think I should be forwarded to the disciplinary board?” asks Felix.

“Yes. I would not have made that decision myself. But as I said, it’s not my decision,” Fredriksson replies.

That the decision is incorrect is also shown by a letter to KTH from Felix Legal Representative, which emphasizes that the University’s factual prohibition is contrary to the government’s requirement for authorities including educational instituations to treat individuals individually and objectively.

“KTH is a state authority. The school is therefore obliged to observe the principles of objectivity and equal treatment in its activities and decisions. It is a requirement that individuals do not get discriminated against negatively because of their political views. Felix also enjoys freedom of expression, which means that he, in accordance with Chapter 2, Section 1, first paragraph of the government law, is allowed his right to speak in writing, in speaking, to express his thoughts, opinions and feelings,” in a letter from Felix’s lawyer, Carl Ridderstråle.

The letter continues,”To take disciplinary action against Felix simply because he has compiled certain facts in a document can therefore never be legally possible.”

According to the letter, KTH’s decision to suspend Felix from a group work because of his political views has been illegal because it violates the principles of how public activities are to be conducted. The decision was taken by the head of department Magnus Brenning.

“This action is a serious violation of Felix’s constitutional rights and constitutes a crime of misconduct… Its occurence will cause a mark on Felix’s record,” it concludes in the letter.

Freetimes have sought Annelie Fredriksson for a comment, but according to KTH she has been “on holiday” since last week.
Swedish KTH: Students may not “express political views, whether they are facts or not”

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