At the first Senate meeting of the 2013-14 academic year, Lydia White, Associate Provost (Policies, Procedures and Equity), presented the annual report on the Policy on Harassment, Sexual Harassment, and Discrimination Prohibited by Law. Instituted in 2005, the policy is currently under a routine review, and will be presented with revisions to Senate later this year.
What is the policy? What does it cover?
The policy aims to educate the McGill community on issues of equity and harassment, and to resolve potential problems. Excluding criminal cases, it covers cases of harassment, sexual harassment, and discrimination prohibited by law (or, the exclusion or preference of a person based on characteristics such as race, sex, or disability).
How does someone file a complaint?
Students, graduate students, administrative and support staff, and academic staff, can all file complaints. A potential complainant can first see an assessor to talk over the situation. Otherwise, a written complaint must be submitted to an assessor, who will then deem whether the complaint falls under the purview of the policy. Complainants can name multiple respondents in their complaint.
What are the possibilities for the resolution of complaints?
Some complaints never make it past an enquiry. Other complaints are withdrawn. “Sometimes by talking to somebody, [potential complainants] realize they can take it into their own hands,” or that there is a better path to resolution, according to White. Those that advance into an enquiry can either be resolved informally, or proceed to a formal resolution. In a formal resolution, the complaint can either be found to have grounds or not. If it has grounds, consequences could include disciplinary action for the respondent – but everything remains confidential.