07-08 Annual Report - HR by xje11366


									Office of Human Rights & Conflict Resolution

                                 Annual Report:
                    May 1, 2007 – April 30, 2008

                              Sh erry Ta ylo r, Manage r

                             Science Complex, Room 212
                                705.748.1011 ext. 7725

A climate of understanding and mutual respect
The Office of Human Rights & Conflict Resolution at Trent University is designed to support a healthy
and inclusive environment where the dignity and worth of all members of the University community are

The Manager provides Human Rights Advisor services under Trent’s Policy on Discrimination and
Harassment (“the Policy”), and is available for confidential consultation by any member of the Trent
community to discuss discrimination or harassment concerns and options for resolution. The Manager
does not advocate for individuals in complaint situations; however, the Manager may raise non-
confidential systemic issues for discussion, research and action.

Effective January 2008, the office began to deliver on its mandate to offer a confidential and voluntary
conflict resolution service to assist members of the University community who wish to resolve
interpersonal conflicts informally.

Getting connected and spreading the word
On-going communication and outreach is critical to creating a culture of prevention and proactivity. This
is a challenge for any service that is limited by resources combined with the need to ensure complaint
resolution processes are comprehensive and timely.

Over the past year, the office coordinated a “Respect” campaign featuring a series of posters for
placement in all departments throughout the university. As well, presentations were made to a range of
internal audiences to raise awareness of the services available. Externally, initial contacts have been
made with local organizations such as the YWCA, Community Race Relations, and the New Canadian
Centre. The Manager will participate in the development of a community education strategy on anti-
racism/anti-oppression that has been initiated by the Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board and
Peterborough-Lakefield Community Policy Service. Through the office, Trent belongs to the Canadian
Association for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination in Higher Education.

Supporting members of the Trent community
Over the period May 1, 2007 to April 30, 2008, the office was approached for advice and assistance on
63 issues. In an academic environment, it is expected to see patterns of activity linked to the cycle of
the academic year (e.g., increased activity in the later stages of each semester), and the past year was
no exception.

It is notable that half (32) of the issues were raised between January and April 2008. This may, to
some degree, be attributed to the additional presence of the Manager position which increased in
January from 2.5 days to 4 days per week. Fourteen (14) of the 32 issues raised in this period related
to the new conflict resolution service.

When reviewing activity, it is recognized that many issues are resolved amongst students, faculty and
staff without the involvement of the office and/or through the involvement of supports available in
disability services, human resources, residences, counseling services, union representatives, etc.
Alternatively, some people are not aware of their options for raising issues or do not feel comfortable
doing so. Therefore, the statistics captured by this report represent only those issues that were brought
to the attention of the Human Rights & Conflict Resolution office.

Human Rights & Conflict Resolution
Annual Report: 2007-2008                                                                           Page 1
                       Issue raised under…
                       Policy                                30
                       Conflict Resolution                   29
                       Other                                  4

When comparing to prior years, it is important to note that previous statistics (where available) captured
Policy and ‘other’ issues (not conflict resolution), with no distinction between the two. Therefore, the
baseline number for comparison against previous years is 34.

                                     Academic Year
                                       2007/08       34
                                       2006/07        --
                                       2005/06        --
                                       2004/05       37
                                       2003/04       37
                                       2002/03       43
                                       2001/02       37
                                       2000/01        --
                                       1999/00       43
                                       1998/99        --
                                       1997/98       36
                                       1996/97       42
                                       1995/96       46
                                       1994/95        --
                                       1993/94       64

Staffing in the human rights office has varied over this period, with 5 different individuals in the role:
full-time (1994-98); 7-10 hour contracts (1999–2006); half-time (2006-07); and now 4 days per week
(’08). Enrolment has grown from approximately 5400 students in 1996-97 to 8000 in 2007-08.

In 2007-08, issues raised more frequently under the Policy dealt with disability (6), sexual harassment
(5), sex (5), race (5), and sexual orientation (3). Age, place of origin, political affiliation, language, family
status, ethnicity and reprisal also were raised. In the area of disability, 4 of the 6 issues addressed
mental health aspects, 1 related to physical disability, and 1 was a broad inquiry related to ‘disability’ in
general as a prohibited ground.

Of the 30 issues raised under the Policy, 3 proceeded to formal channels and 4 were ‘abandoned’ with
no action beyond initial contact. The remainder were resolved or are continuing at the ‘lowest level’
through advice and/or informal resolution. Please see Appendix I for detail.

Of the 14 issues raised under the conflict resolution mandate since January (when the service ‘rolled
out’), 5 were continuing at the end of the reporting year, and 4 were addressed through advice and
coaching with the person who made initial contact. In 3 situations, the ‘other parties’ were not willing to
participate, and 2 saw no action beyond initial inquiry.

The 4 issues in the “Other” category were general inquiries and/or referrals.

For a breakdown of 2007-08 activity, please see Appendix I.

Human Rights & Conflict Resolution
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Presidential Advisory Committee on Human Rights
The Presidential Advisory Committee on Human Rights (PACHR) is comprised of elected faculty, staff,
exempt, student members as well as representatives from human resources, student affairs, security &
risk management, the international program and the colleges, with a mandate to:

    •    Work with the President and the Human Rights Advisor to promote human rights within the
         university community;
    •    Develop human rights education objectives and events for the university community, including
         information sessions for supervisory and administrative officers;
    •    Ensure that all groups, including staff, faculty, students and librarians, receive adequate
         information about their rights and responsibilities under the Policy;
    •    Identify particular types of discrimination and harassment that occur in the university
         community to develop preventative strategies;
    •    Monitor the functioning of the Policy and advise the President accordingly;
    •    Respond as a committee to concerns or questions raised by the university community, where

PACHR has been quite active over the 2007-08 academic year, with an emphasis on raising awareness
of “human rights at Trent”. Three sub-committees have carried out work in the form of focus groups to
gather and assess perceptions, a poster campaign including a contest to develop a new logo and
tagline, and information gathering on existing avenues for education and training.

PACHR also provided input and guidance on a number of non-confidential, systemic issues brought to
the table by members and the Human Rights Advisor including gender-neutral washrooms, racism, and
hate literature/postering practices.

As part of its role to monitor the functioning of the Policy, PAHCR has prepared for the upcoming Policy
review by approving a consultation plan and reviewing an initial set of draft revisions.

Re-thinking the Policy
Following extensive consultation and debate in 1993/94, Trent’s current Policy on Discrimination and
Harassment was approved by the Board of Governors in 1995. It’s time re-engage discussion amongst
the university community, with the goal to bring forward a revised policy for approval in 2009.
Concurrently, the newly-created Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario will become operational on June 30,
2008, and the Ontario Human Rights Commission will shift to focus on systemic, policy and advocacy
issues. We anticipate strengthening and revising the Policy in a number of areas including definition of
key concepts and clarity of roles and responsibilities, all of which will be accompanied by a
comprehensive awareness and education strategy.

Conflict Resolution Model Development
Conflict resolution models are designed to help those involved in interpersonal conflict or dispute to
communicate their concerns and reach an agreement that is acceptable to all parties. Models (and
mediator styles) may range from ‘transformative’ to ‘deal-brokering’ and combinations thereof,
depending on the nature of the conflict. Beginning January 2008, the office began offering a
confidential and voluntary interim model that leans almost exclusively toward the ‘transformative’ end
of the spectrum with the intent to help parties build, strengthen and, ideally, heal relationships. The

Human Rights & Conflict Resolution
Annual Report: 2007-2008                                                                           Page 3
interim model is not intended to determine ‘right/wrong’ or ‘truth’, nor does it provide legal advice or

Informed by the work of St. Stephen’s Community House in Toronto as well as training through the
University of Windsor and the writings of Beer, Stief, Folger, Poole, Stutman among others, the intent of
the interim model is to:

         help the parties develop an accurate understanding of the issues;
         unearth the roots of the issue
         encourage the parties to step back, ‘de-personalize’ and ‘reframe’ the situation;
         break down the problem into more manageable parts;
         suggest common goals;
         encourage co-operation through a solution-focussed approach;
         remain available for on-going support as the parties put their agreement into practice.

Once the 2008-09 Policy review is complete, the office will undertake a review of the conflict resolution
model to assess its effectiveness relative to the needs of the Trent community. In the meanwhile, we
will engage in an informal process of finetuning and raising awareness about availability of the service.

Behind the scenes
The office is supported by a part-time assistant (7 hours per week, 9 months of the year) and, due to
vacancy, there is an opportunity to step back, review and evolve the role to address needs in the areas
of on-going communications and project coordination. Recent initiatives include development of a
roster of external human rights investigators, a database to track activity, a preliminary profile of human
rights offices at comparator universities, website improvements, positive space research as well as on-
going administrative support for PACHR and the human rights office.

Collegiality and fairness, confidence and trust
Confidence and trust in human rights practices are critical in support of an effective learning and
working environment. This office is committed to working in harmony with the Trent community as we
collectively promote the values of collegiality, fairness, dignity and respect.

Sherry Taylor
Manager, Human Rights & Conflict Resolution
June 2008

Human Rights & Conflict Resolution
Annual Report: 2007-2008                                                                             Page 4
                                                 Office of Human Rights & Conflict Resolution
                                                             Activity: May 1, 2007 – April 30, 2008

                                                                                                  APPENDIX I
                         The following represents only those issues that were brought
                     to the attention of the Office of Human Rights & Conflict Resolution.

       Total issues reported:           63
              Policy              30                             Note: Numbers reflected in the following
              Conflict Resolution 29                             report may exceed total issues due to
              Other               4                              multiple parties/grounds/processes.

       _____ _____ __________________________________________________________________


       Type                 Inquiry                              2
                            Advice                               24
                            Informal Resolution                  6
                            Formal Complaint                     2
                            Legal / Human Rights Commission      1

       ‘Complainant’        Student           12           ‘Respondent’      Student                12
       or Contact           Staff             8                   party/ies)
                                                           (other party/ies) Faculty                5
                            Student-Staff     1                              Exempt                 5
                            Faculty           7                              Systemic               3
                            Exempt            4                              External/Visitor       1
                            Third Party       2                              Unknown                3
                                                                             N/A (inquiry only)     5

       Prohibited           Disability              6            Place of Origin              2
       Ground               Sexual Harassment       5            Political Affiliation        1
                            Sex                     5            Language                     1
                            Race                    5            Family Status                1
                            Sexual Orientation      3            Ethnicity                    1
                            Age                     2            Reprisal                     1

       Intersecting Grounds            Age, Sex                         Race, Sexual Orientation
       (multiple grounds named         Disability, Ethnicity            Sexual Orientation, Reprisal
       in a single complaint)

       Outcome              Advice/coaching/information/referral – closed                21
                            Advice/coaching/information/referral – continuing            2
                            Informal Resolution – agreement reached                      3
                            Informal Resolution – agreement not reached                  1
                            Informal Resolution – continuing                             2
                            Formal Complaint – settlement or decision reached            2
                            Legal / OHRC – settlement reached                            1
                            No action (complainant did not pursue)                       3

Human Rights & Conflict Resolution
Annual Report: 2007-2008                                                                                    Page 5
                                                 Conflict Resolution

              Type                   Workplace                        14
                                     Student                          8
                                     Student/Workplace*               2
                                     Grievance                        1
                                     Inquiry                          4

                                     *includes students in lab/teaching situations

              Initial Contact        Student                   8
                                     Staff                     6
                                     Student-Staff             2
                                     Faculty                   9
                                     Exempt                    4

              Other Party            Student                   7
                                     Staff                     3
                                     Student-Staff             1
                                     Faculty                   9
                                     Exempt                    3
                                     Unknown                   4
                                     N/A (inquiry only)        3

              Outcome                Advice/coaching/information/referral            16
                                     Resolution attempt - continuing                 5
                                     Other party(ies) not willing to participate     3
                                     No action                                       5


                                             General inquiries and referrals

              Contact                Student              2
                                     Staff                1
                                     External             1

Human Rights & Conflict Resolution
Annual Report: 2007-2008                                                                  Page 6

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