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People of SFU: Meet Ikjyot Rehal, Bullying and Harassment case manager
After Ikjyot Rehal graduated from SFU with a Master of Education in Counselling Psychology, she started looking for ways to give back.
"I spent a few years at SFU, and it felt like home to me," she says. "I connected with a lot of groups and services that helped me grow, and there was this feeling of wanting to give back after I graduated. It’s an honour to have been a student, alumnus and now a support person to the SFU community."
In October, Rehal joined SFU as a Bullying and Harassment case manager. This new role comes alongside the implementation of SFU's new Bullying and Harassment Policy (GP-47)—and the development of the Bullying and Harassment Central Hub, an office established to support community members facing bullying and harassment.
So, what does the case manager do?
"I help all university community members, whether you're a student, staff or faculty member—anybody who feels like they're being bullied or harassed," says Rehal.
"I'm here to provide support, to figure out if their situation is within the jurisdiction of GP-47 and—if they would like—help them start a formal complaint. I can also connect individuals with resources depending on their affiliation with the university and assist staff in understanding WorkSafeBC policies."
Bullying and Harassment include any inappropriate conduct or comment by a person towards a member of the University Community that the person knew or reasonably ought to have known would cause the member of the University Community to be humiliated or intimidated.
It may be difficult to imagine what bullying and harassment look like in a post-secondary environment, but these instances may appear during our everyday interactions.
Do you conduct research? A graduate student might experience bullying and harassment if their research supervisor consistently calls them humiliating names. Are you in an administrative setting? An office staff member might experience bullying and harassment if a colleague belittles them during a team meeting.
Rehal also reminds us—especially as some continue leveraging virtual platforms for work and learning—that "bullying and harassment are not limited to in-person interactions." Faculty, staff and students who experience cyberbullying while using platforms like SFU Canvas, MS Teams or Zoom can turn to Rehal for support.
Rehal knows that asking for help is easier than done, but she’s working to make the experience as accessible as possible.
"I work from a trauma-informed, person-centred and anti-oppressive approach, which means that I recognize the hurdles and complexities present in people’s lives. Bullying and harassment can affect people’s emotional, social, academic, family and work lives," she says.
"Because of this, I like to provide choices. We can connect over the phone, in person or virtually. For some people who are not even at a place where they feel comfortable to talk about what is happening to them, people are welcome to make appointments to gather information about what I do. Or they can present a situation like, 'What if this was the case? What would happen?’"
It's not uncommon to feel hesitant about speaking up, whether due to a power imbalance or fear of potential consequences. With this in mind, Rehal adds, “I work in a way where consent and autonomy are honoured and respected."
Looking towards the work ahead, Rehal is energized by the opportunity to help the community.
"It's a calling for me to be there to support people and support them during vulnerable times," she says. "This is something close to my heart."
To book an appointment, learn about the Central Hub and explore support options, please visit the Bullying & Harassment webpage.