Students' Guide to the SFU Human Rights Policy

As an SFU student, you are entitled to study and work in an environment that is free from discrimination and harassment. However, knowing what constitutes discrimination and harassment is often difficult. Freedom from discrimination and harassment does not mean that you will be protected from exposure to controversial material and ideas, nor does it mean that every encounter you have on campus will be agreeable. SFU is, first and foremost, a place of learning in which academic excellence and the free exchange of information, ideas and perspectives are valued and encouraged.

SFU Human Rights Policy

The SFU Human Rights Policy covers discrimination and three types of harassment, as follows:

A. Discrimination

Discrimination means intentional or unintentional differential treatment based on one or more of the personal characteristics protected by the British Columbia's Human Rights Code for which there is no bona fide or reasonable justification, and which imposes burdens, obligations or disadvantages on specific individuals or groups as defined by the B.C. Human Rights Code. Currently, the grounds of discrimination prohibited by the Code are: age, race, colour, ancestry, place of origin, religion, marital status, family status, physical or mental disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, and in case of employment, also includes unrelated criminal convictions and political belief.

Moreover, SFU is under a legal duty to accommodate individuals who are members of groups named in the Code. The extent of the duty to accommodate is up to the point of undue hardship.

B. Harassment

Harassment is any behaviour that satisfies one or more of the following definitions:

Harassment related to a personal characteristic protected by the Code is a form of discrimination under this Policy. It means behaviour directed towards another person or persons that is:

  • abusive or demeaning; and
  • includes a direct or indirect reference to a prohibited ground of discrimination under the Code; and
  • would be viewed by a reasonable person experiencing the behaviour as an interference with their access to a university service or their participation in a University-related activity, or which leads to or implies job or academically related adverse consequences for the person harassed. 

Sexual harassment is behaviour of a sexual nature:

  • by a person who knows or ought reasonably to know that the behaviour is unwelcome; and
  • that results in adverse consequences for the person harassed, such as interference with their access to a university service or their participation in a University-related activity, or which leads to or implies job or academically related adverse consequences.


The SFU policy will be triggered if all of the following criteria are met:

  • both of the parties (the complainant and the respondent) are employees or students;
  • the last incident of alleged discrimination or harassment occurred within the preceding twelve (12) months ;
  • the behaviour is alleged to have occurred:
    • on any property that is controlled by the University and used for University purposes; or
    • at or during an in-person or virtual meeting, event, or activity that is sponsored by or under the auspices of the University, or in furtherance of University business; or
    • using the University’s Information and Communications Technology resources; or
    • when the Respondent was in a position of power or influence over the Complainant’s academic or employment status at the time of the reported incident.
  • the behaviour, if true, would constitute a contravention of the policy by meeting the definition of discrimination or harassment in the policy.


Examples of discriminatory behaviours that would violate the policy:

  • not allowing a person, because of their religious beliefs, to join a study group;
  • assigning certain job duties because of gender;
  • refusing to accommodate a physical or mental disability because of the cost associated with accommodation.

Examples of sexual harassment:

  • a classmate, TA, supervisor or professor repeatedly invites you on dates and says how attractive you are, even after you say you are not interested;
  • a former lover cannot accept a break-up and stalks you by making persistent phone calls, sending cards and following you;
  • someone persistently directs at you sexually explicit email, voicemail or commentary.

Examples of human rights based harassment:

  • repeatedly targeting another individual by using racial slurs;
  • taunting based on sexual orientation;

For more information about discrimination and harassment, phone the Human Rights Office at 778.782.4446 or drop by AQ 3045.