Racial harassment, discrimination, and hate/bias conduct in relation to the Student Code of Conduct
Queen’s is an institution dedicated to embracing and upholding a campus climate that celebrates and respects diversity, equity, and inclusivity. Queen’s is continuing the work needed to foster a campus environment in which all students, staff, and faculty are treated with dignity and anyone who experiences or witnesses harassment or discrimination are encouraged to disclose their experience.
Queen’s is currently engaged in a comprehensive review of the university’s Harassment and Discrimination 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 work currently being done on our university’s policies and procedures will support a respectful and inclusive living, learning, and working environment to all members of our community.
The Student Code of Conduct (the “Code”) currently includes expectations around both Harassment and Discrimination, including racial harassment and racial discrimination. The Code also considers conduct which involves an element of hate or bias toward individual attributes which are protected under the Human Rights Code. Where there is evidence of this type of hate or bias, including racial bias, this is considered an aggravating factor and will be weighted accordingly in any non-academic misconduct decision.
To date there has been considerable discussion within the campus community and at various levels of governance on what changes may be required to more fully address issues of racism, Harassment and Discrimination on campus. These conversations are ongoing and will result in further dialogue with the university community about the Student Code of Conduct. The community can expect to hear more about the university’s efforts to address racism on campus in the coming months. In the interim, members of the university community may find the FAQs included below helpful in understanding how these issues relate to expectations under the Student Code of Conduct.
This site will continue to evolve as the work on our campus develops.
How are racial harassment, discrimination, and hate/bias non-academic misconduct conduct currently addressed under the Student Code of Conduct (“the Code”)?
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, 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 racial harassment, 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.
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 racial harassment. Taylor has engaged in several microaggressions during the interaction. 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 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, 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, Ming is 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 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.
Students may also wish to review the Anti-Racism infographic (PDF 347KB) illustrating what to do if you have experienced or witnessed racism, available from the AMS Social Issues Commission, the Queen’s Human Rights and Equity Office and partners.
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).
If there is no immediate safety concern but you are looking for support, resources, or additional information there are a number of offices on campus that can provide assistance:
- Campus Security & Emergency Services
- Human Rights and Equity Office
- Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Office
- Office of Indigenous Initiatives
- Office of the University Ombudsperson
- Division of Student Affairs (e.g. Residence, Student Conduct Office, Four Directions Indigenous Student Centre, Queen’s University International Centre (QUIC), Athletics & Recreation, Non-Academic Misconduct Intake Office, Support Services & Community Engagement, Faith & Spiritual Life, Ban Righ Centre among others)
Visit Report Non-Academic Misconduct for information about the formal complaint process and the Non-Academic Misconduct Units involved in resolving NAM matters involving student respondents. (e.g. NAMIO, Student Conduct Office, Residence Life, Athletics & Recreation, Authorized Agents).