The panel of presenters will bring together stakeholders exposing different perspectives on the problem of cyberbullying at the university, including a student, an ombudsperson, and a legal/policy analyst.
Student - Aynsley Pescitelli
Aynsley Pescitelli is a PhD student in the School of Criminology at Simon Fraser University. Her research interests include bullying/cyberbullying, online and offline homophobia and transphobia, sexting and related legislation, online safety, minorities and the criminal justice system, crime and the media, qualitative research methods, and criminal justice education.
MySpace or Yours?: An exploratory study of homophobic and transphobic bullying in cyberspace
Few studies explicitly address the topic of cyberbullying by including the experiences of post-secondary students and even fewer studies explore cyberbullying experiences of LGBTQ students. This qualitative, exploratory study examines post-secondary students’ experiences with homophobia and transphobia in online environments. In-depth, semi-structured interviews were conducted with six participants, using a grounded theory approach to analysis with NVivo 10 software. Participants provided information regarding Internet use patterns, sites visited, positive online experiences, online socialization, online victimization, and online safety. Prevalent themes include cyberbullying within the LGBTQ community, discrimination through site design, and the use of activism to combat discrimination.
Ombudsperson - Natalie Sharpe
Natalie Sharpe has served as an ombudsperson, mediatior, and advisor on the University of Alberta campus for over 25 years. She is the Director of the Student OmbudService which sees over 1200 students annually. Natalie is also an educator, and has taught part-time at colleges and universities in the Edmonton area: on traditional urban campuses, at aboriginal and rural colleges, and through online distance education. She has taught in the social sciences (anthropology/sociology), women and gender studies, and alternative dispute resolution. Natalie has previously worked as a union executive in various capacities; as an Editor-Researcher for The Canadian Encyclopedia; and as a Land Claims Director for Metis land claims. She believes that this diverse work background helps her examine issues from a holistic perspective.
No more Cyber Invasions: Learning Responsible “Digital Citizenship” - A University Ombudsperson’s Perspective
During the fall of 2009, I began to deal with new ombuds cases on my university campus that involved bullying and abuse through the social media. These cases raised some interesting questions because the activities were tied directly to university events, such as online courses. However, the social interactions of students outside the traditional classroom were not regarded by many professors as a University “problem” because they were not “in-class disruptive behavior” that could be readily dealt with. Many chose to ignore or accept responsibility over the “cyber class behaviours”. I also dealt with cases of sexting and sexual harassment via email; these cases were easier to examine as they left a trail of information that could not be easily disposed; there was no closed door to hide behind and excuses were embarrassing to read. The cases grew in complexity in terms of who was the real harasser. For example, the campus security did an intensive investigation with a student who was reporting stalking and harassment, and the cyber evidence pointed to the individual doing this to draw attention and harass others. There were more sinister cases where identities were tied to fake characters that could not be found. And these cases had followers, hundreds maybe more who haunted the complainant, day and night.
I began to research this problem in the cyber world that had been well-documented from K to 12. I contacted my ombuds colleagues to see if they were dealing with similar cases on their campuses and what was being done to prevent this bullying behaviour. The information was just not there. When the proposals came for a Canadian student service conference in 2010, I met with SFU researcher Dr. Wanda Cassidy and her colleagues who had examined cyber bullying extensively. We co-presented on our separate work, and this was the beginning of a collaboration in the SFU SSHRC cyber bullying project spearheaded by Dr. Cassidy: to examine what level of cyber bullying was happening at Canadian colleges and universities, and what was being done to stop it. The approach was to examine the relational and systemic nature of the problem, the root causes, in order to come up with the appropriate policies and recommendations to make Canadian campuses cyber safe.
Informed by the recent MacKay Task Force in Nova Scotia on Cyber bullying, I co-presented last fall at a California conference with an American campus ombudsperson to examine their ombuds approaches in dealing with bullying and cyber bullying cases. Using the peer case review approach and MacKay’s guidance on eradicating cyber bullying, we examined a hypothetical construct an ombuds case on bullying and one on cyber bullying. On this panel, I will briefly focus on the mapping process used by University ombudspersons when dealing with cyber bullying cases, and how we advocate the kinds of systemic change similar to MacKay’s Action plan.
Legal Policy/Analyst - Robyn Durling, Advocate & Communications Officer, BC Human Rights Coalition
Robyn Durling is the Communications Officer and an Advocate for the B.C. Human Rights Coalition. He has a degree in business, is a certified business analyst, and completed his Juris Doctor at Newport University in California. He is here today on behalf of BullyFreeBC for which he is a Board Member and Spokesperson. BullyFreeBC organized in 2011 to promote awareness and advocate changes to legislation with respect to workplace bullying.