Department of Biochemistry Policy on Harassment
The Department of Biochemistry values an environment that supports the personal dignity of all its members. Researchers, students, instructors, staff and faculty are to be respected at all times in any activities related to the Department, as well as to McGill University. Harassment and sexual harassment will not be tolerated in the Department. Any form of violence or intimidation is unacceptable.
The Department supports the McGill Policy on Harassment, Sexual Harassment and Discrimination Prohibited by Law, the Handbook of Student Rights and Responsibilities, and the Code of Student Conduct and Disciplinary Procedures. Both the University and the Department have the objective to prevent harassment, sexual harassment and discrimination by providing information, and by ensuring appropriate policies and procedures are in place.
Harassment: “vexatious behaviour... in the form of repeated hostile or unwanted conduct, verbal comments, actions or gestures, that affect the dignity or psychological or physical integrity... and that result in a harmful environment for an individual”.
Discrimination: on the basis of race, colour, sex, religion, language, disability or any other criteria listed in the University policy, is a form of harassment.
Sexual harassment: “where sexual activity is made a term or condition of an individual’s employment or status, or used as a basis for an employment or educational decision”. Also, any conduct of a sexual nature that impairs a person’s work or educational performance, including:
· seeking the “sexual attention or sexual favour” of a person
· treating a person “as an object of sexual desire”
· behaviour “hostile to a person because of their sex
Sexual assault: “any act of a sexual nature performed without the consent of the other person”, that may include physical or psychological violence.
The Department has suggested procedures for situations that may be harassment or sexual harassment. These suggestions should be considered before proceeding with a formal complaint through the University procedures. However, a complainant is free to make a formal complaint to the University at any time. Because of the serious nature of sexual assault, complainants in this situation should report it to the University through the procedures provided.
If a person feels that they have been harassed or sexually harassed, they should bring it to the attention of whomever in the Department has immediate authority over the environment where the incident took place.
In a research laboratory, personnel should report incidents to the faculty member who is the research supervisor. Although they are administered differently at McGill, graduate and undergraduate students, post-doctoral fellows, research assistants and associates, and technicians who work together with a supervisor should report to their supervisor. The supervisor should then consider what can be done to informally resolve the issue, for example by talking to both the complainant and the respondent to the complaint, or by arranging for them to talk with each other, or to recommend that a formal complaint be made to the University. The supervisor should maintain as much confidentiality as possible, but inform the Chair about the incident and its resolution.
Similarly, incidents in a course environment should be reported to the instructor, or to the course coordinator. Teaching assistants are not considered to have authority and should pass on reports to the instructor. Incidents in an administrative office should be reported to the office supervisor. Incidents involving a faculty member should be reported to the Chair. The persons in authority can try to resolve the issue informally as above, or recommend that a formal complaint be made, while maintaining as much confidentiality as possible and informing the Chair.
If a complainant believes they cannot report to the immediate authority, or if the authority does not resolve the issue, the report can be made to the next higher levels of authority in the Department. For graduate students and post-doctoral fellows, this is the Graduate Program Director, and then the Chair. For staff and faculty, this is the Chair. Undergraduate students should speak with the Student Affairs Officer who will advise whether a report should be made to the Chair, or whether a formal complaint should be made. The Graduate Program Director or Chair will try to resolve the issue informally, or recommend a formal complaint.
At any stage in the Departmental procedure, a complainant is free to make a complaint through the University procedures. A University Assessor will then review and investigate the complaint, and Department involvement will end.
Undergraduate and graduate students can also contact the Dean of Students for additional advice. All members of McGill can contact the Ombudsperson.