SECTION A: HIGHLIGHTS OF ACTIVITIES FOR 2000 – 2001 AND 2001 – 2002
A common denominator to many of the cases that are brought to the Office is a lack of information or understanding of exactly what a human rights issue is, and the obligations that various agents of the University have in resolving such issues. This is why our recommendations this year emphasize communication, education and information.
1. A greater emphasis should be put on training in the area of human rights at the senior administrative levels. If the university wishes to effectively address human rights issues, information must come from the bottom and the top. At this time very little training is done at the senior level. There are some notable exceptions, and those have been quite successful. Senior administrators should take some time to reflect on how responsive their unit is to human rights and seek out the resources that would allow them to be more responsive to emerging issues.
2. Students who get involved in peer advising or grievance-types of committees should receive some training in recognizing human rights issues and ensuring the principles of fairness and natural justice are respected by their procedures. Many units and student organizations who hire students (either paid or for volunteer positions) in peer advisory positions do provide extensive human rights training, but some do not have any system to provide this type of training. Any organization or unit who wishes to provide this type of service should have plans in place to ensure that training is available for their staff.
3. The University should reexamine its position of allowing the distribution of print media produced by organizations that have no process for accountability to the community and that have not shown responsibility as far as responding to community concerns around stereotyping, bias, harassment and discrimination.
4. The University units who publish informational and promotional materials for the University should examine their publications to see if these have included the University policy on Harassment and Discrimination wherever it is appropriate. Typically, there is a reticence to print information about the University’s commitment to human rights, including the Harassment/Discrimination Policy and Procedure. This seems to stem from the mistaken belief that such information will be received in a negative way. In other words, if we mention sexual harassment, racism or homophobia, the message received will be that these things are problematic at Queen’s. There are many ways of presenting this information in a positive way, as the Student Recruitment and International Initiatives’ View Book demonstrates. The University cannot have an effective Harassment and Discrimination Policy if it does not actively inform the community about it.
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