Human Rights Policy and Bullying & Harassment Policy

The university is seeking your input on two policies:

  1. Policy GP18 - Human Rights, which is being revised as part of its regular 5-year review; and
  2. A proposed new policy on Bullying and Harassment.

SFU is committed to providing a healthy, safe and respectful learning, teaching, research and work environment in which bullying and harassment and discrimination are neither acceptable nor tolerated. To create a culture that values the rights of everyone, each member of the community must take responsibility for creating and maintaining a respectful working and learning environment.

Part of creating this culture is establishing clear policies that clarify the behaviours we expect and the consequences for not aligning to expectations. The feedback we have received from the community through different inputs, including the Diversity Meter Survey, tells us that SFU’s policies must clarify the university’s commitment to safety from discrimination, bullying and harassment.

In response to this feedback from our community and to align with WorkSafe BC legislative requirements, the following actions are underway:

1. The existing Human Rights policy (GP-18) is being amended as part of its 5-year review process to remove personal harassment

  • The Human Rights policy will continue to protect students, faculty and staff from discrimination on the basis of a person’s race, colour, ancestry, place of origin, religion, marital status, family status, physical or mental disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or age.

2. A new policy is being created to holistically address bullying and harassment and to establish a centralized reporting process for all students, faculty and staff. The Bullying and Harassment policy provides clarity for the SFU community in four specific areas. The policy:

  • Defines bullying and harassment in alignment with the Workers Compensation Act to eliminate confusion about what type of behaviour is prohibited
  • Establishes requirements for education and training
  • States the resources available to those who experience bullying and harassment.
  • Outlines the process to report bullying and harassment and outlines how these issues are resolved.

We are seeking input from SFU’s faculty, staff and students. Please review the proposed Bullying and Harassment policy and the Human Rights policy edits, as well as the supporting Frequently Asked Questions, and submit your feedback to: pol_asst@sfu.ca by December 10, 2020.

Bullying & Harassment Policy FAQs

General

What is the President’s position on and commitment to this Bullying and Harassment policy? 

The President, and all members of the University Executive, are fully committed to creating and maintaining a respectful workplace and learning environment.

How will SFU achieve a safe and respectful environment?  

Our goal is prevention. We don’t want members of our community to be bullied or harassed or subjected to racism or other discriminatory treatment.

To achieve a safe and respectful workplace and learning environment we will take action in two ways:  first through education and training to raise awareness about what behaviour is unacceptable; and second, by addressing incidents that do occur effectively and in a timely manner.

Why was personal harassment removed from the Human Rights Policy (GP-18) and included here?

The Human Rights Policy (GP-18) protects against discrimination and harassment based on personal characteristics protected by the BC Human Rights Code, such as age, religion, or race.  Personal harassment, unconnected to a personal characteristic protected by the Human Rights Code is not discrimination.  As such, it does not fit well within a human rights policy.  Further, under the Human Rights Policy (GP-18), complaints about personal harassment could only be addressed by informal resolution processes.  There was no possibility of investigating those complaints and therefore no possibility of corrective or disciplinary measures.

SFU decided to create a singular Bullying and Harassment policy to address all (non-discriminatory) bullying and harassment complaints by standardized processes and procedures, which include the possibility of investigation and corrective or disciplinary action. We have heard from the community and we agree that it is imperative that we have a mechanism to address unacceptable behaviour.

Doesn’t SFU have existing processes for addressing bullying and harassment complaints?  What is being changed?

SFU has a WorkSafe Bullying and Harassment Program which is posted on the SRS website.

There is, however, currently no central standardized intake process and the office responsible for handling each complaint is not clearly articulated.  This has resulted in confusion amongst community members about where to file a complaint and which office will handle it.

The new Bullying and Harassment policy establishes a centralized reporting process (Report Form, through SRS) which is directed by SRS to the Responsible Office for action.  All follow-up to the complaint resides with the Responsible Office.

Why isn’t there a central office and a support person for Bullying and Harassment complaints, like there is for Sexualized Violence and for Human Rights/Discrimination?

At this time, there is no centralized office for receiving disclosures and reports of bullying and harassment, but we anticipate that the clear processes set out in this policy for filing and responding to reports will result in complaints being addressed in an effective and timely manner.

Were students involved in developing the bulling and harassment policy?  

While students were not directly involved in developing the policy, early conversations were held with key stakeholders, including both the SFSS and GSS, to get their feedback before the draft policy was shared with the broader university community for feedback.

We need to hear from SFU students, faculty and staff to ensure this policy addresses the concerns that have been raised and appropriately moves the University forward. Input will be considered before the draft policy is finalized and taken forward to the Board of Governors.

If the Bullying and Harassment policy provides for avenues of complaint and resolution that were not available before, that could result in more complaints being made. Does the University have adequate personnel to handle the work associated with managing and resolving these complaints?

The University recognizes that a greater number of bullying and harassment complaints will lead to an increased workload for the staff of Responsible Offices. However, the creation and maintenance of a respectful workplace and learning environment is a priority commitment of the University, and the implementation of a comprehensive bullying and harassment policy is the necessary first step towards fulfilling that commitment. The University is prepared to be responsible for ensuring that personnel resourcing is sufficient to address complaints made under the new Bullying and Harassment policy.

Human Rights Policy FAQs