Resources & Steps for Harassment & Discrimination Complaints
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FAQs for Harassment & Discrimination Disclosure and Reporting
Please note: The following information has been compiled from various UBC policies and resources to provide useful guidance in real situations. HOWEVER, please be aware that UBC governance policies dictate the legal framework of any particular incident or situation. Depending on the nature of the incident and the parties involved, a number of UBC governance documents could apply. We direct you to these in the first tab below. We know that navigating through these documents can be difficult, especially in the face of a traumatic incident, and encourage you to use the resources above to help.
There are many governance policies at UBC due to the variety of roles and situations that may arise. Each of these governance documents contains specific processes and specific definitions that cannot be generalized to apply to other governance documents. These policies are the legal foundation for processes and procedures around a harassment or discrimination complaint.
Policies with Specific Investigative Processes:
Policy SC7 - Discrimination
Policy SC7 support:
Responsibility of Managers and Heads:
Policy SC17 – Sexual Misconduct and Sexual Violence
Policy SC7 support:
Prohibited relationships clause
Discipline for Non-Academic Misconduct: Student Code of Conduct
Other policies that may be relevant during an Investigation:
Policy SC8 - Investigation
Policy SC8 guidelines:
This Policy does not apply to Investigations that are conducted in accordance with the processes established by UBC under policies such as the Discrimination Policy and Sexual Misconduct Policy, or procedures such as the Student Code of Conduct
UBC Respectful Environment Statement
Bullying and Harassment Training Course
Policy SC13 – Response to At-Risk Behavior
- Disclosing is sharing information with UBC or a member of the UBC Community about an incident or incidents of harassment. An individual may choose to Disclose harassment without filing a Report.
- Reporting is providing a statement of allegations to the Office of Investigations or police about an incident or incidents of harassment.
Within EOAS, disclosing to an EOAS manager or advisor (e.g. EOAS HR, Dept Head, Grad Program Advisor) may lead to internal documentation, which would be kept on file within the department. This is different from filing a formal report to the Investigations Office or police. However, if a disclosure to an EOAS manager or advisor involves information about criminal activity, they are obliged to involve the police.
When you file a report with the UBC Investigations office, you can request that your report be anonymous. However, whether or not an anonymous report is possible in a particular case will depend on the circumstances. Usually, if you are reporting an incident that occurred to you directly, it is not possible to report anonymously because you would need to participate in the investigation. It is possible to file a report as a third party anonymously, but again it will depend on the circumstances. Even when you request to remain anonymous, the Investigations Office asks for your contact information in order to advise you of their decision, or if they need additional information.
You can consult with the Equity and Inclusion Office anonymously, but information will not be further investigated unless the Associate Vice President of Equity and Inclusion determines it appropriate to do so and initiates a complaint.
If you file with the police and wish to remain anonymous, you can submit a Third-Party Report. The SVPRO can help you learn about the process and options for filing a Third-Party Report.
Confidentiality of information regarding a harassment incident that is disclosed to EOAS management or the UBC Investigations Office will be strictly maintained by the authority to whom the report was made and those involved in the investigation. If you decide to pursue an investigation, the person against whom you are making the report will be necessarily notified and allowed to respond through the investigation process. Parties not involved in the case will be unable to access information connected to the investigation.
It is possible to make an Investigation Office report on sexual harassment/misconduct if you are a witness. You will file the same report as a complainant would. In this case, the investigator would reach out to the target and an investigation would only take place with the target’s consent. If you witness a discrimination incident, you can contact the Equity and Inclusion office to disclose, and you will be guided on how to proceed.
Your wellbeing and safety is first priority. Being in the field with a harasser can be a difficult situation. We encourage you to use the resources in the document above and tell someone you feel comfortable disclosing to. It is your supervisor’s responsibility to ensure their field worker’s safety, and there are usually immediate measures that can be taken to improve the situation – with your consent. Everything in this document applies to field work as well as on campus.
The Fieldwork Initiative may be a useful resource as well: http://fieldworkinitiative.org/.
If you decide to make a report through the UBC Investigations Office, first you will fill out the online reporting form. The Director of Investigations will review the report and determine if they have the jurisdiction to investigate. If so, a copy of the report will be provided to the respondent (person accused of harassment or misconduct) and asked to respond. The response will determine whether an investigation is necessary. If the complainant indicates that they would like to pursue Alternative Resolution (AR), the viability of AR will be explored with both parties. Otherwise, an investigation will take place and be completed within 60 days. The investigator will make a ‘finding of fact’. If they find that misconduct did occur, disciplinary measures will be imposed by the appropriate authority for the perpetrator involved in the case (e.g. Department Head, Dean, President). Throughout this process, you have the right to an advocate and support (see Guidance/Support resources in chart). You will also be able to meet with the investigator and submit questions to be asked of the respondent.
Alternative resolution (AR) may be an option through the Investigations Office. AR refers to an array of non-investigation responses including restorative justice, shuttle diplomacy, mediation, and online resolution options. AR processes are voluntary, where both the Complainant and Respondent must be willing participants. AR processes empower survivors of sexual misconduct to have a direct role in determining outcomes, unlike a formalized investigation process where discipline is determined by other members of the university.
You have the right to disclose or report, no matter how minor you may think your complaint is. We encourage you to follow the flow chart and take the course of action that you feel provides you some resolution.
If a friend discloses that they have been targeted by sexual misconduct, there are a number of ways in which you can support them:
- Tell them that you believe them, that you support them, that it is not their fault, that no one deserves to be targeted by such behavior.
- Provide them with the list of contact information and resources included in this document.
- Ask if they want your help in finding out what their options are.
- Ask what else you can do to help.
- Respect their decision not to talk with you if they don't want to.
It is common for survivors of sexual assault not to initially name what happened to them as rape or abuse although they may recognize harmful behavior. Over time, as they feel safer, they may try to understand the experience through talking about it. The support of a friend can be extremely beneficial in the healing process. Remember that the well-being of the person who was harmed must be prioritized. Reporting an incident to police or others without the support or knowledge of the person who was harmed could be more traumatic than helpful. The individual who was harmed has the right to make the decision to have an investigation move forward or not.
UBC does not tolerate any retaliation directed against the complainant or the witness involved in an investigation. Retaliation policy (SC18) allows certain authoritative bodies the discretion to impose interim restrictions on a respondent where direct or indirect threats of harm or abuse have been made.
If either party disagrees with the decision of the above resolution options, they may appeal the decision. The pathway of appeal will depend on their position in UBC (e.g. student, staff, faculty), guided by procedures established by collective agreements of employment for staff and faculty or the UBC Senate Student Appeals on Academic Discipline Committee for students. Depending on the case, there may be recourse through agencies outside UBC, such as the provincial Ombuds Office or the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal. This is outlined in policy SC7 and SC17, sections 7 and 8, respectively. In addition, all students, staff members, and faculty can seek legal redress on their own behalf.
Throughout an official investigation, you have the right to an advocate and support (see Guidance/Support resources). Staff and faculty can be accompanied by their respective union and association representatives.
UBC regards discrimination and sexual harrassment as a serious offence that is subject to a wide range of remedial or disciplinary measures, including dismissal or expulsion from UBC. Specific outcomes or consequences will be determined on a case-by-case basis.
Repeated complaints would trigger a formal investigation into misconduct, involving central HR.
Annually, the Equity & Inclusion Office will publicly report on the number of:
- consultations with the Equity & Inclusion Office about matters of Discrimination;
- formal complaints of Discrimination received by the Director of Investigations; and
- formal complaints of Discrimination investigated or referred to an alternative dispute resolution process.
Reports can be accessed here: https://equity.ubc.ca/resources/policies-reports/