Students' Guide to the SFU Human Rights Policy

As an SFU student, you are entitled to study and work in an environment that is free from discrimination and harassment. However, knowing what constitutes discrimination and harassment is often difficult. Freedom from discrimination and harassment does not mean that you will be protected from exposure to controversial material and ideas, nor does it mean that every encounter you have on campus will be agreeable. SFU is, first and foremost, a place of learning in which academic excellence and the free exchange of information, ideas and perspectives are valued and encouraged.

SFU Human Rights Policy

The SFU Human Rights Policy covers discrimination and three types of harassment, as follows:

A. Discrimination

The University expressly adopts the definition of discrimination articulated by the Supreme Court of Canada in B.C. v. BCGSEU, [1999] 3 S.C.R. 3 (“Meiorin”) as intentional or unintentional differential treatment for which there is no bona fide or reasonable justification. Such discrimination imposes burdens, obligations or disadvantages on specific individuals or groups as defined by the B.C. Human Rights Code. Currently, the grounds of discrimination prohibited by the Code are: age (with limitations), race, colour, ancestry, place of origin, political beliefs, religion, marital status, family status, physical or mental disability, sex, sexual orientation, and in the case of employment, unrelated criminal conviction. Moreover, SFU is under a legal duty to accommodate individuals who are members of groups named in the Code. The extent of the duty to accommodate is up to the point of undue hardship.

B. Harassment

Harassment is any behaviour that satisfies one or more of the following definitions:

  1. Harassment based on a prohibited ground of discrimination is behaviour directed toward another person or persons which:
    1. is abusive or demeaning; and
    2. includes a reference to a ground of discrimination enumerated in the B.C. Human Rights Code (race, colour, ancestry, place of origin, religion, marital status, family status, physical or mental disability, sex, sexual orientation and age); and
    3. would be viewed by a reasonable person as interfering with a university-related activity (e.g., employment, study, research).
  2. Sexual harassment is behaviour of a sexual nature:
    1. by a person who knows or ought reasonably to know that the behaviour is unwelcome; and
    2. which either interferes with another person's participation in a university-related activity, or leads to or implies employment or academic consequences for the person harassed.
  3. Personal harassment is behaviour directed toward a specific person or persons which:
    1. serves no legitimate purpose; and
    2. would create an intimidating, humiliating or hostile work or learning environment.


The SFU policy will be triggered if all of the following criteria are met:

  • both of the parties (the complainant and the respondent) are employees or students;
  • the last incident of alleged discrimination or harassment occurred within the preceding twelve (12) months (in exceptional circumstances the time limit may be lifted);
  • the behaviour occurred in the context of a university-related activity (e.g., on SFU property or at an SFU sponsored event);
  • the behaviour, if true, would constitute a contravention of the policy by meeting a definition of discrimination or harassment in the policy.


Examples of discriminatory behaviours that would violate the policy:

  • refusing to hire someone because of their sexual orientation;
  • not allowing a person, because of their religious beliefs, to join a study group;
  • assigning certain job duties because of gender;
  • refusing to accommodate a physical or mental disability because of the cost associated with accommodation.

Examples of sexual harassment:

  • a classmate, TA, supervisor or professor repeatedly invites you on dates and says how attractive you are, even after you say you are not interested;
  • a former lover cannot accept a break-up and stalks you by making persistent phone calls, sending cards and following you;
  • someone persistently directs at you sexually explicit email, voicemail or commentary.

Examples of human rights based harassment:

  • repeatedly targeting another individual by using racial slurs;
  • taunting based on sexual orientation;
  • persistent, personalized references to negative stereotypes.

Examples of personal harassment:

  • taunting or mocking another member of the university community;
  • making derogatory comments in the course of a legitimate evaluation;
  • directing commentary that is intended to shame or humiliate.

For more information about discrimination and harassment, phone the Human Rights Office at 778.782.4446 or drop by AQ 3045.