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All members of the Lakehead University Community have the right to study, work and live in an environment free from harassment and discrimination as defined in the Ontario Human Rights Code.
To combat harassment and discrimination at Lakehead University, Harassment and Discrimination Policy and Procedures have been created through consultations with staff, faculty and students to ensure a wide range of perspectives and a fair process for dealing with incidents of harassment and discrimination on our campus.
Harassment and Discrimination are a Violation of Human Rights
Lakehead University recognizes that harassment and discrimination are illegal under the prohibited grounds in the Ontario Human Rights Code, and are incompatible with the standard of conduct expected of members of the Lakehead University Community.
The Ontario Human Rights Code provides that every person has a right to freedom from discrimination and harassment on the grounds of race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, same-sex partnership, disability, age, marital status, family status, the receipt of public assistance and record of offenses.
Harassment and Discrimination Negatively Affect Individuals and the Entire University Community
Harassment and discrimination are human rights violations which can impact on the physical and emotional wellbeing of an individual.
Harassment is a course of comments or conduct consisting of words or actions that disparage or humiliate a person in relation to a prohibited ground contained in the Ontario Human Rights Code that is known, or ought reasonably to be known, to be unwelcome. It may include comments or conduct by a person in a position of authority that is intimidating, threatening or abusive and may be accompanied by direct or implied threats to the individuals grade(s), status or job. Harassment may also occur between people of similar authority; however, those who are most often the targets of harassment tend to be members of groups that have been historically disadvantaged in our society (e.g. women, racial and ethnic minorities, people with disabilities, lesbians, gay men and bisexuals).
Discrimination means action(s) or behaviour(s) that result s in the unfavourable or adverse treatment or preferential treatment of individuals or groups related to the prohibited grounds of the Ontario Human Rights Code. This can include the refusal to provide goods, services of facilities; exclusion from employment or employment benefits; refusal to work with, teach or study with someone; or failure to provide physical access.
Discrimination can also be systemic, meaning that policies, practices and procedures have been created and implemented in ways which appear to some to be neutral, but which disadvantage individuals or groups relative to one of the prohibited grounds of the Ontario Human Rights Code.
Harassment and discrimination often have a profound effect on those who experience it, undermining their work or academic performance, and preventing or impairing their full and equal enjoyment of their employment or academic experiences at Lakehead University. Persistent harassment and discrimination can create a poisoned environment which is hostile, offensive or intimidating for the individuals or groups who have to work, study or live in this environment.
With such adverse effects on individuals academic and/or working lives, harassment and discrimination also negatively impact on the overall health of the University.
We are All Responsible for Creating an Environment Free of Harassment and Discrimination
To aid in achieving the goal of a harassment and discrimination free institution, Lakehead University has a Harassment and Discrimination Officer (Sherry Herchak firstname.lastname@example.org or 343-8356) who coordinates educational initiatives and complaint services for the University community.
Every student, employee and contractor will receive a plain language version of the policy and procedures and will be asked to participate, as appropriate, in awareness raising or training programs to make them aware of their rights and obligations under the Harassment and Discrimination Policy and Procedures.
It is hoped that with a better understanding of the negative effects of harassment and discrimination on individuals, groups and the entire institution, all members of the Lakehead University Community will help to create an environment wherein all its members can work, study and live without the experience of harassing and/or discriminatory behaviour.
How Does Harassment or Discrimination Affect Victims?
People who are the target of harassing and/or discriminatory behaviour are surprised at how seriously it affects their lives. A common perception of harassment or discrimination is that it is harmless, and something the victim should be able to handle alone. It is believed that harassing or discriminatory behaviour is something that is easy to avoid, stop or call to the attention of others, and that the consequences of being harassed or discriminated against are minor and easily forgotten.
The fact that such beliefs are held by many people can add to the difficulties victims have in dealing with the often debilitating effects of harassment and discrimination. Since many erroneous beliefs about harassment and discrimination are prevalent, it is important for everyone at Lakehead University to learn to identify harassing or discriminatory behaviour, and know about the mechanisms in place to combat these behaviours.
Those who have been harassed and/or discriminated against on the job, in the classroom, while using the campus services, or in residence quite likely feel humiliated, distrustful, angry and frustrated. The effects of being in this environment are both emotional and physical and may include:
Inability to Concentrate
High Blood Pressure
Loss of Confidence or Self-Esteem
These problems may continue long after the harassing or discriminatory incidents have taken place, sometimes becoming worse with time.
How Do Victims of Harassment and Discrimination Cope?
Harassing and discriminatory behaviours are often an abuse of power (e.g. professor over student, supervisor over employee) involving the implicit or explicit use of threats of punishment to ensure the complicity of the victim. The fear of a failing grade, a poor letter of recommendation or being denied a promotion often ensures that the victim will not object to or report the harassing or discriminatory behaviour, but will instead look for ways to escape such situations. Victims of harassment and/or discrimination often fear that they will not be believed, or that no action will be taken if they do launch a complaint, even if the complaint is taken seriously. Others feel that they will be seen as "trouble-makers", or that they were responsible for the harassing and/or discriminatory behaviour.
As a result, victims typically develop strategies for escaping the harassment and/or discrimination. Students who are being harassed and/or discriminated against in the classroom may drop the class or simply not attend, often failing. They may change majors, transfer or leave school entirely. University employees being harassed and/or discriminated against by other employees may seek transfers to other departments, request new schedules or responsibilities, or may leave their jobs. If these methods of avoiding the harassment and/or discrimination are not available, victims may tolerate the behaviour and return regularly to a humiliating and stressful situation.
Harassment and discrimination have severe effects on the individuals who experience such behaviours; they also have a profound negative impact on the University Community as a whole. It is important for everyone to understand the effects of harassment and discrimination in order to provide a supportive environment for those who are the targets of such actions, and to collectively combat harassment and discrimination on our campus.
What You Should Do if You are a Victim of Harassment and/or Discrimination
If you are being harassed and/or discriminated against, do not ignore the behaviour. Silence is often interpreted by the harasser/discriminator as permission to continue with such behaviours. Also, in cases of harassment and/or discrimination where the respondent is unknown, or the discrimination is of a systemic nature, an institutional response is warranted and remedies can only occur if we are informed. Lakehead University has a process in place to deal with complaints of harassment and discrimination, and you are strongly encouraged to contact the Harassment and Discrimination Officer (email@example.com or 343-8356) who can provide confidential advice and assistance on how to deal with the situation and, if you choose, initiate the formal complaint process.
When you contact the Harassment and Discrimination Officer she/he will meet with you and:
- identify options available to you
- review informal means of resolving the problem
- provide information on formal means of resolution
- help you determine whether to contact other services such as counselling or the police
- if necessary, seek advice from appropriate University personnel
The Harassment and Discrimination Policy and Procedures has both informal and formal complaint mechanisms which can be used to end the harassing and/or discriminatory behaviour. Which route you choose will depend on your particular situation, and what you feel you are ready to do. The Harassment and Discrimination Officer will not initiate action without your knowledge.
Experiencing harassment and/or discrimination and going through the complaint process can be very difficult. In order to make the process easier, there are a number of things you can do:
Document What Has Happened
Keep a record of what has happened to you including dates, times and places of the harassing and/or discriminatory behaviour, the names of the perpetrator and any witnesses and specific details including any direct quotes. Also record anything you said which indicated your objections and any responses to such objections, including punishments if there were any. Try to keep a record of your feelings about the incident(s) and any emotional or physical effects you have noticed. This record will provide a clear account of your experience which will reinforce a complaint, if in the future you decide to initiate one.
Talk to Others
Speaking with friends, classmates or co-workers about your experiences can be very helpful. First, it breaks the isolation that you may be feeling. By expressing your feelings you may be able to clarify what is happening to you and obtain practical and emotional support. Second, letting others know about your experiences may protect them from becoming the target of harassment and discrimination. Third, you may meet others who have also been the victims of harassment and discrimination who can offer support and advice on how to deal with your problems.
Get Counselling and Support
The emotional effects of harassment and discrimination can be profound, and you may benefit from speaking with someone who understands the effects being a victim of harassment and/or discrimination has on your academics, work or physical and emotional wellbeing. Lakehead University has a number of services which can help you in the areas of counselling, support and referrals. The staff at these offices will also provide help and support when you are deciding what to do, or are going through the complaint process.
If you feel that you have been a victim of harassment or discrimination, or if you wish to provide feedback on the Harassment and Discrimination Policy and Procedures or have any questions, contact Sherry Herchak (firstname.lastname@example.org) in the Human Resources office, or call 343-8356 or 343-8334.
On-Campus Support Links:
Aboriginal Cultural and Support Services
Chaplain Sister Alice Greer
Employee Assistance Program (EAP)
Behavioural Sciences Centre, 300 N. Lillie St., 623-7677
Health and Counselling
UC-1007 (across from Security), 343-8361
International Student Coordinator
Lakehead University Student Union (LUSU)
Aboriginal Awareness Centre
SC-0020 (beside LUSU office)
UC-0019B & C (under Agora)
Vice President, Student Issues (VPSI)
Student Accessibility Services
Student Centre, Room SC-0003, 343-8047
Ombudsperson, Scott McCormack at 343-8061,