Queen’s streamlined their harassment and discrimination policy.
The updated Harassment and Discrimination Prevention Response Policy was presented by the University Culture Committee and approved by the Board of Trustees during their meeting in Richardson Hall on Sept. 29.
With the creation of the Vice-Principal (Culture, Equity, and Inclusion) portfolio, Queen’s has created a new Complaints and Investigation Office. Led by Stephanie Simpson, vice-principal (culture, equity, and inclusion), all complaints alleging harassment and discrimination will be routed through the new office.
The University said the changes include centralization of complaints and allowing the complaints to be reviewed by individuals understanding of Indigenization, equity, diversity, inclusion, accessibility, and anti-racism on campus, according to a report to the Board of Trustees.
Changes come as 29 per cent of students reported experiencing harassment and discrimination at Queen’s in 2023, according to the Shift Survey. Only five per cent of students on campus formally reported incidences of harassment or discrimination to the administration.
The Intake and Assessment Team, chaired by Simpson, will now determine if the facts presented in complaints warrant further investigation, deciding which administrative unit will be responsible for the investigation.
Complaints brought against students which are referred for investigation by the intake team will likely be directed to the Non-Academic Misconduct Office. The exception are medical residents,whose complaints are within the scope of the Office of Complaints and Investigations, but fall under the scope of the Resident Harassment and Discrimination Investigation Procedure.
Human Resources and the Faculty Relations Office’s role is being adjusted in managing harassment and discrimination complaint files.
The Faculty Relations Office acts as a mediator between the University and the Queen’s Faculty Association (QUFA), which represents the interest of academic staff at the University.
The policy clarified employees reporting an incident of workplace harassment or discrimination can’t rely on third parties to act as a proxy during the complaint process. All complaints must be submitted directly to the Complaints and Investigation office to classify as a formal complaint.
QUFA declined The Journal’s request for comment as they didn’t have time to review the updated policy in time for publication.
The new policy clarifies investigations into discrimination cases don’t apply to situations where the University is building admissions pathways for individuals part of equity-deserving groups protected by the Ontario Human Rights Code.
The University has legal responsibility under The Ontario Human Rights Code to prevent and address harassment at the University.
The update explains while harassment, sexual harassment, and workplace harassment often relate to a repeated patterns of behaviour, a complaint can be filed after one occurrence.
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