Frequently Asked Questions

 

1. How can I make an appointment?

Appointments can be scheduled by email, phone, or in-person. For urgent matters, same day appointments can be arranged.

2. Who will meet with me?

Kristen Woo, the Director of the Human Rights Office (HRO). The HRO is staffed by Kristen Woo and Roya Ghorab, the Confidential Administrative Professional. 

3. Will the information I give be kept confidential?

Yes, but two exceptions apply. If a person seeking advice from the HRO indicates an intention to harm themselves and/or others, the information will not be kept confidential. Or, if a person seeking advice from the HRO wants to proceed beyond an informal consultation to file a complaint against a member of the University community, the complainant’s identity and the allegations will be disclosed to the respondent (the alleged wrongdoer). Disclosure of this information is fundamental to ensuring procedural fairness under the Human Rights Policy (GP 18).

 

4. What if I only want advice from the HRO Director? 

If you only want advice about how to deal with your situation, the Director will limit her involvement to providing advice. This is what happens at the informal consultation stage. You can continue to seek advice from the HRO without ever initiating a complaint. 

5. What are the various steps in the complaint process?

  • If you want to proceed beyond the informal consultation stage, you must file a complaint with the HRO in writing.
  • You will be asked to identify yourself, and provide your contact information, and describe the details of your complaint. 
  • The Director will do a preliminary review of the complaint to assess if your complaint falls within the scope and jurisdiction of the Human Rights Policy;
  • If your complaint is accepted, the Director will inform you of the process for voluntary informal resolution of your complaint.
  • If you agree to proceed with voluntary informal resolution, the Director will initiate an informal inquiry, discussing the complaint with the respondent to seek a mutually acceptable resolution.
  • If no resolution is reached and if both parties agree, the complaint may be referred to mediation.
  • If still no resolution is reached, or if the parties do not want to participate in a voluntary informal resolution or mediation, either party may make a written request to the Director that the complaint be investigated.
  • The Director will send this request for investigation to the Responsible Office for the respondent.
  • The Responsible Office will consider the request for investigation and decide whether and how to investigate.
  • The Responsible Office will communicate its decision to the complainant and to the respondent in writing with reasons.

6. Can I make an anonymous complaint?

Anonymous complaints are not accepted.

7. Can I initiate a complaint about something that has happened to someone else?

Without information directly from the person who was the target of harassment or discrimination, the HRO will not proceed to act, except in exceptional circumstances. If you witness behavior you believe would constitute discrimination or harassment, the responsible thing to do is to approach the target, let them know what you observed, and offer to act as a witness. Whether or not they choose to report the behavior is their decision.

 

8. If after obtaining advice I want to proceed with a complaint, what services are offered by the HRO?

The HRO offers informal resolution processes, mediation, referral to University-based and community resources, and referral to formal investigation.

9. What is mediation?

Mediation is a process whereby people who are in conflict with one another come together with an impartial third party (the mediator) in an attempt to resolve their issues. The bulk of the work that is done in mediation is done by the parties themselves, who must have an honest desire to resolve their conflict. Mediation proceedings are confidential, “off the record”, and normally result in written agreements which stipulate the actions each of the parties has agreed to undertake to ensure that conflict does not arise in the future.

10. May I bring a support person with me when I meet with the HRO?

Support people and advocates are welcome to accompany you to the HRO; however, we ask that they do not disrupt any discussions or proceedings.

11. Will a record of my complaint be maintained on file?

The Records Retention and Disposal Authority for the HRO specifies that records are to be maintained for varying lengths of time, depending on the type of file. For example, informal consultation files are maintained for two years by the HRO. However, HRO files are not used for other purposes, which means that generally they are not disclosed to other University officials and/or used in other cases.

12. If I make a complaint about a certain individual, will the HRO tell me if other (similar) complaints have been made?

No. The HRO acts in an impartial manner. We do not disclose personal or confidential information about past cases to current complainants.

13. Will the person I am complaining about know that I have complained?

If you are only seeking advice, the respondent will not be notified by the HRO. However, if you wish to proceed beyond the informal consultation stage, the HRO will disclose your complaint to the respondent, including your identity and the allegations against them.

14. Will precautions be taken to ensure my personal safety?

If issues are identified involving personal safety, we will contact Campus Security and/or the police. The University can take steps to ensure that complainants and respondents do not come into contact while cases are being resolved.

15. If I feel too upset to go through an investigation, can I obtain a remedy without going through an investigation?

You may obtain a remedy through the voluntary informal resolution or mediation process. If no informal or mediated resolution of the complaint has been reached, the complaint must be referred to investigation if you wish to obtain a remedy. The University does not take action based on allegations.

16.  What should I do if I have experienced discrimination or harassment in relation to COVID-19?

The Provincial Health Officer and BCCDC recommends not making assumptions about the risk of students, faculty, or staff based on their ethnicity or travel history.

Every member of our University community has the right to be treated with respect and dignity and to be welcomed and supported on our campus. No person should be targeted in any way or subjected to discrimination resulting from a misplaced perception that they may be a carrier of a communicable disease based on their perceived disability, race, ancestry, place of origin, or otherwise. This kind of targeting is discriminatory and a breach of University policy (GP 18).

If you feel you have been targeted based on any of the above factors, you should discuss the matter with the HRO. 

If you need immediate assistance because you fear for your personal safety, contact 911, or for an on-campus safety concern, contact Campus Security at 778-782-4500 (24 hours a day/7 days a week).

For more information or to make an appointment, please call the Human Rights Office at 778-782-6632 or email hroadmin@sfu.ca.