As McGill’s Policy on Harassment, Sexual Harassment and Discrimination Prohibited by Law comes up for review at Senate, serious questions are being raised about the policy’s implementation at McGill, and the policy itself.
Despite the policy stipulating that it do so, McGill has failed to establish an office explicitly dedicated to disseminating information about the University’s policies on harassment, discrimination, and equity policies. Instead, students, staff, and faculty in need of these resources must rely on the scattered information provided by the Social Equity and Diversity Education (SEDE) Office’s website or the Secretariat’s page on the McGill website. The first barely discusses the policy and the second features merely the text of the policy, clouded in legalistic and inaccessible terminology.
For those who wish to file a complaint, the only guidance and support available is provided by the Advocacy Branch of SACOMSS – an entirely volunteer-run organization under the purview of SSMU, rather than the University – which has no legal authority.
Those who do file a complaint will have their case reviewed by an Assessor, a volunteer from the McGill community appointed by Senate, who may only have hours worth of training. Finally, a decision is arbitrated by the Provost, who has no relevant training whatsoever. No formal appeal process is available for those dissatisfied with the final decision enacted on their complaint.
McGill must update their policy on harassment and discrimination. These issues affecting our community must not be so easily dismissed and cannot remain unaddressed. Someone who is in a position to seek help is already in a vulnerable position; to have to navigate a confusing and inaccessible policy in seeking help is adding insult to injury. Information regarding the policy should be simplified and better publicized. A formal appeal process should be created, and someone with adequate training should be making the decisions that have a dramatic impact on the lives of those who work and study on our campus and in our community.