People of SFU

People of SFU: Supporting those who experience bullying and harassment at SFU

August 23, 2023
SFU anti-bullying specialist Rana Hakami helps individuals navigate tricky situations and creates more equity and more respectful places and spaces.

Growing up a bi-cultural immigrant whose family moved back-and-forth between Canada and Iran, Rana Hakami has an acute understanding of bullying and its impact. 

“As an adult, I have a much better appreciation for what I experienced as a kid, than I ever did as a child or a teenager,” says Rana Hakami, who joined SFU’s Bullying and Harassment Central Hub in August 2022 after a decade as manager of student services in the school of nursing at UBC’s Vancouver campus. “As a bi-cultural immigrant, I was always trying to fit in. I would ask myself: ‘How do I pass as not being different?’ Being different is tough. I just wanted to be the same as everyone else. Now as an adult, I see that diversity is the strength that brings people together. However, I can also empathize with younger Rana’s desire to fit in, and I carry that empathy into my work at SFU. 

“It takes courage to come forward and admit that you feel you have experienced what feels like bullying or harassment. No one wants to admit that, so it is important to create a safe container – an anti-oppressive, judgement free, trauma and violence informed space where it feels safe to come forward with your experience.”

As the university’s anti-bullying specialist, Hakami is available to consult with faculty, staff and students about strategies and tools to create respectful workplace and learning environments. 

Such tools could include a Q&A about SFU’s respectful workplace and learning environment training module, working through bullying case studies, or custom materials around professional communication strategies and setting boundaries.

In her first year at SFU, Hakami has increased awareness about SFU’s Bullying & Harassment Policy (GP 47), and the resources provided through her position and the Bullying & Harassment Central Hub. Resources include the Respectful Workplace and Learning Environment training module developed in May 2021. It helps remind people of their responsibilities that contribute to a respectful learning, research and work environment. The module also helps increase understanding of what bullying and harassment behaviours are, and ensure people know where to turn for help. This training is mandatory for all SFU staff and faculty, and students are encouraged to complete it too. 

“SFU believes it is everyone’s responsibility to cultivate an environment where we all feel safe, valued and respected,” says Hakami, who also offers free, on-demand workshops and outreach sessions for the SFU community. Hakami believes in prevention education to strengthen campus communities “It’s often easier to come up with team community agreements and strategies that create cohesive units, than to try and repair relationships that have been hurt.” 

She is also the contact for anyone who has witnessed, or experienced, bullying or harassment and helps individuals with exploring support options, and confirming next steps – which could include submitting a report under SFU’s Bullying and Harassment Policy (GP47) or submitting an anonymous allegation to the university. Hakami also ensures that all SFU employees are aware that they always have the option to consult with their employee group representative in addition to consulting with the Central Hub.  

  • Connect with SFU’s anti-bullying specialist, here
  • To learn more about the complaint / reporting process please visit this page

“My passion is supporting individuals navigate tricky situations and helping to create more access, more equity and more respectful places and spaces,” says Hakami, who is also a registered clinical counsellor. “What motivates me is that this position allows me to do all of those things at the same time.” 

Equipped with a master’s degree in higher education administration (New York University) and counselling psychology (UBC), Hakami followed her own advice – align what she does for a living with what she is passionate about. Hakami leapt at the opportunity to return to SFU, where she had previously worked as manager of residence life training programs from 2010 to 2012.

“The role allows me to focus on bullying prevention education and creating respectful environments. It gives me the opportunity to provide individual one-on-one support when people experience challenges or need to support a teammate or a classmate that has experienced challenges. It’s kind of the perfect job.”

Hakami was born in Iran and immigrated to Canada as a child. Her family moved back and forth between the two countries until she was in Grade 11, allowing her to finish high school in North Vancouver. 

“I’ve come to learn over the past few years that there are so many privileges that my parents made possible for me. I’m able to use some of that privilege to help amplify voices and spaces for those who might not have them. And to be culturally sensitive and aware of who the person coming to me with the experience they are going to share is.”

To help build a culture of bullying prevention, Hakami recommends staff and faculty take time to review SFU’s Canvas module on Respectful Workplace & Learning Environments. While the module is mandatory for all faculty and staff, it is available to all members of the SFU community, including students. The module is now also approved for co-curricular credit for SFU students. 

“Having this policy, having this anti-bullying position, and having this Bullying and Harassment Central Hub, the fact that SFU has chosen to say, ‘This is important,’ and we can dedicate resources to do it, makes this a special place to be.”