SFU’s new Bullying & Harassment Policy: What faculty and staff need to know

May 28, 2021

SFU is committed to creating and maintaining a healthy, safe and respectful learning, teaching, research and work environment in which bullying and harassment and discrimination are neither acceptable nor tolerated.

As a step towards furthering this commitment, last year SFU held a community consultation on changes proposed to the Human Rights Policy (GP-18) and the newly proposed Bullying & Harassment Policy. 

Along with updates to SFU's Human Rights Policy (GP-18), the new Bullying & Harassment Policy (GP-47) was approved by SFU’s Board of Governors on May 20, 2021 and is now in effect for all community members. Keep reading to learn more about why these changes were made, and what they mean for faculty and staff at SFU.

What’s the origin of the new Bullying & Harassment Policy?

Feedback we received from the community through different inputs, including the Diversity Meter Survey, told us that SFU’s policies must clarify and facilitate our commitment to safety from discrimination, bullying and harassment.

The creation of the Bullying & Harassment Policy (GP-47) was proposed to address this feedback, which included:

  • The need for a clear definition of the terms bullying and harassment, in alignment with the BC Workers Compensation Act
  • The need to provide education and training to members of the university community
  • The need to ensure appropriate supports and resources for those who experience bullying and harassment
  • The need for a central, standardized intake process to handle complaints related to bullying and harassment, as well as a clear process for reporting and resolution

Why did we need a new policy, and how is the Bullying & Harassment Policy (GP-47) different from the Human Rights Policy (GP-18)?

SFU’s 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. 

However, personal harassment unconnected to a personal characteristic protected by the Human Rights Code is not considered “discrimination,” so it does not “fit” within a human rights policy. Under the Human Rights Policy, reports about personal harassment could only be addressed by informal resolution processes—there was no mechanism for investigating complaints or instigating disciplinary measures.

The Bullying & Harassment Policy gives us a separate mechanism with which to address bullying and harassment reports, as well as a framework for building out more education and training opportunities around how we can all contribute to building a safe and respectful workplace and learning environment.

What does this mean for faculty and staff?

In order to help all community members understand the effects of the Bullying & Harassment Policy, a Respectful Working & Learning Environment training module was developed. The training covers:

  • The contents of the Bullying & Harassment Policy
  • Your role in contributing to respectful learning environments at SFU
  • Where to get support if you experience bullying and harassment
  • What happens when you make a bullying and harassment reportt

In order to comply with WorkSafe BC legislative requirements, all SFU employees are required to take the training. Supervisors are responsible for confirming that this training has been completed, and for ensuring that new hires are informed of the training. Through the Bullying & Harassment webpage, you can also access supervisor and employee-specific toolkits containing additional educational and training resources. We highly encourage all community members to complete this training before our return to campus in September.

It’s all of our job to cultivate an environment at SFU where everyone feels safe, valued and respected, so thank you in advance for your cooperation.

What’s next for the Bullying & Harassment Policy?

For the time being, the Bullying & Harassment Policy is in effect under interim procedures. Although this means that the current reporting mechanisms are temporary, we believe that the processes set out in this policy for filing and responding to reports will result in complaints being addressed in an effective and timely manner.

In the longer term, we will establish a “central hub” that will provide educational programs and training to the University community, ensure appropriate supports and accommodations are made available to individuals impacted by bullying and harassment, and facilitate the intake of disclosures and reports of bullying and harassment. Our goal is to start staffing a “central hub” by this Fall. Once this “central hub” is fully established, we’ll revise the procedures to reflect these changes.

For now, you can learn more about the training, as well as additional supports and resources available to you, at the Bullying & Harassment webpage. If you have any questions about the new Bullying & Harassment Policy, please reach out to bh-support@sfu.ca.