Racial harassment, discrimination, and hate/bias conduct in relation to the Student Code of Conduct
As part of Queen’s commitment to fostering a campus climate that celebrates and respects diversity, equity, and inclusivity, the Harassment and Discrimination Prevention and Response Policy and the corresponding changes to the Student Code of Conduct (the “Code”) came into effect on September 1, 2021.
The Code, since originally approved by the Board of Trustees, has included expectations for students to not engage in behaviour that would be considered harassing or discriminatory. For further clarity, the campus community was consulted on how the behavioural expectations related to Harassment and Discrimination could be enhanced and further align with the university’s values and expectations related to equity, diversity, inclusivity, and Indigeneity (EDII). The Code now includes Informational Commentary about Discrimination in Appendix A.
Queen’s commitment to addressing issues related to equity, diversity and inclusion is ongoing and anyone who experiences or witnesses harassment or discrimination is encouraged to disclose their experience. While the work to address Harassment and Discrimination on our campus continues, the following FAQs may be helpful in understanding how these issues relate to expectations under the Student Code of Conduct. For specific questions please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How are racial harassment, discrimination, and hate/bias conduct addressed under the Student Code of Conduct?
Non-Academic Misconduct (NAM) refers to behaviours that violate the behavioural expectations outlined in the Code and supporting policies such as the Residence Community Standards, and the Athletic & Recreation Non-Academic Misconduct Policy.
Within the Code, there are violations which may be used to address particular forms of racist behaviour. The Code prohibits Harassment, which includes discriminatory harassment, harassment by provocation or incitement, and hazing, and Discrimination by a Student Group, which may be used to address racial discrimination by a student group.
Racism, hate or bias may come into play when looking at other prohibited conduct under the Code, where there is evidence that this was a factor in the conduct. Other kinds of prohibited conduct where racism, hate or bias may be found to be a factor could include, but are not limited to Assault, Sexual Harassment, Hazing, and/or Vandalism.
If a protected ground under the Ontario Human Rights Code is found to have been a factor in misconduct, this will be considered an aggravating factor in the sanctioning process.
What might racial harassment, discrimination or hate/bias look like on campus?
Below you will find some scenarios that could be considered racial harassment, discrimination, or hate/bias conduct under the Code.
Please note that these scenarios are illustrative only and are not meant to reflect the full spectrum of possible incidents of misconduct, nor the complexities that may arise in any given non-academic misconduct (NAM) process. These scenarios are fictional. They are not drawn from actual NAM cases, as the details of NAM cases are held in the strictest of confidence. Finally, these scenarios are concise, and readers are asked to remain mindful that all NAM processes are grounded in the principles of procedural fairness, which includes a thorough review and assessment of each formal report.
Taylor, a white student, meets Jaylen, a Black student, to work on a group project in Stauffer library. Upon arrival, Taylor grabs Jaylen’s hair without permission. Taylor says, “it looks so good in braids, much less messy.” Taylor proceeds to look over Jaylen’s portion of the project and comments that “it’s good. You are definitely the smartest Black person I know.” Even so, Taylor jokes, Jaylen should not lead the class presentation as no one would understand Jaylen’s “ghetto talk”. When Jaylen expresses shock at Taylor’s comment, Taylor tells Jaylen to “lighten up” and “you people don’t have to get angry at everything”. Taylor then posts in their group chat about how “some people” can’t take a joke.
This may be considered discriminatory harassment. Taylor has engaged in several microaggressions during the interaction (see the Microaggressions Infographic (PDF | 282KB) for more information). Taylor touched Jaylen’s hair without permission and used language that referenced racial stereotypes against Black people. Taylor also qualified the compliment about how smart Jaylen is based on Jaylen’s race, characterizing Jaylen’s speech as “ghetto” and then, when challenged, characterizing Jaylen and Black people as “angry”. It would not matter that Taylor was just joking. The impact on Jaylen would be the most important consideration.
On the balance of probabilities, Taylor would probably be found responsible for Misconduct Against Persons and Dangerous Activity, namely Discriminatory Harassment, under the Code.
Hayden walks by Sam, who is writing on the wall with a marker in the hallway of Brant House. A few minutes later, Hayden sees “Make Queen’s White Again” written on the wall. Hayden goes to the Don immediately.
This is hate-graffiti. University property has been vandalized and the content of the message is racist.
If it is determined that Sam is the responsible party, Sam could be found responsible for Misconduct Against Persons and Dangerous Activity, namely Harassment by Provocation or Incitement, and for Misconduct Involving Property, namely Vandalism, under the Code.
The Bridge Club holds its meetings in a building on campus that does not have an elevator. Ming, an international student who uses a wheelchair, is not able to join meetings in person. When Ming messages the Club President about changing the meeting space, they are told that the club has always met in this building and it is an important tradition. The Club President explains that Ming can participate in the club by reading the minutes of meetings and by attending other events held in accessible buildings. The Club President also assures Ming this is the best solution as Ming should learn the rules of the game before being allowed to play.
Ming has been prevented from participating meaningfully in the Bridge Club because they use a wheelchair. By refusing to change the meeting space, the Bridge Club has limited access to an individual who is unable to use the stairs, creating a loss of opportunity and imposing a burden on Ming. Changing the meeting space would not constitute undue hardship for the Club, so the Club has also failed to accommodate Ming. There may also be an issue of intersectionality here; why does the President assume that Ming does not “know the rules of the game?” Does the President know Ming is new to the game of bridge? OR have they simply assumed that because Ming is an international student? The latter is an example of unacceptable attitudes that lead to discriminatory behaviour.
The Bridge Club, as a Student Group, could be found responsible for Misconduct Against Persons and Dangerous Activity, namely Discrimination by a Student Group, under the Code.
What supports are available?
If you have observed or have felt impacted by racist, hateful, or bias conduct, the most important first step is to ensure your safety and wellbeing. For a life-threatening emergency, call 911. For other immediate safety concerns on campus, call Queen's 24-hour Campus Security and Emergency Services at 613-533-6111 (internal ext. 36111).
Students can access personal supports and information without initiating a formal complaint process. Visit the Inclusive Queen’s website for more information on available supports, resources, and current initiatives related to diversity, equity and inclusion.
Where can I report a concern or incident?
If you have an immediate safety concern on campus, you are encouraged to contact Queen's 24-hour Campus Security and Emergency Services at 613-533-6111 (internal ext. 36111).
Visit the Harassment and Discrimination website for more information about both the anonymous disclosure and formal complaint process under the Harassment and Discrimination Prevention and Response Policy.
An incredible amount of change has taken place on university campuses, in our laws, and in society at large, as it relates to harassment and discrimination. The university's commitment to reviewing and reflecting on ways to further enhance policies and procedures that support and encourage a respectful and inclusive campus climate is critical to addressing issues of harassment, discrimination, hate, and bias conduct. Work recently completed on the university’s policies and procedures is a critical component. The university is committed to continuing this work through various working groups, initiatives, and community dialogue.
To date, there has been considerable discussion within the campus community and at various levels of governance on what changes could be made to more fully address issues of racism, harassment and discrimination on campus. These discussions resulted in a revised Harassment and Discrimination Prevention and Response Policy (September 2021) and corresponding changes to the Student Code of Conduct as part of a suite of tools used to educate students on the university’s values and expectations related to equity, diversity, inclusivity, and Indigeneity (EDII).
Queen’s commitment to addressing issues related to EDII will continue as we grow and learn as a community. For more information about Queen's commitment to equity, diversity, inclusion, and indigeneity, read the Principal's Declaration of Commitment to Address Systemic Racism.