York University is a place where respect, equity, diversity and inclusiveness in the interactions between community members are highly valued and expected. These are fundamental values that go to the core of the dignity and worth of every person and in the promotion of equal rights and opportunities without discrimination. Residence Life and Housing Services Staff work to promote a harassment- and discrimination-free environment in residences and we expect all members of the residence community to strive to maintain an environment free from discrimination and harassment. You have a significant part to play in understanding your role not only in protecting your rights and those of others, but also in ensuring that you don’t inadvertently negatively affect another person's rights to be treated in accordance with these fundamental values.
Discrimination means treating people differently, negatively or adversely. It is unfair treatment based on a protected ground and/or characteristic according to human rights law. Discrimination can happen in different ways. For example:
- Refusing to share a room with a person because of his or her accent or skin colour (direct discrimination).
- Excluding a group or class of people through a procedure or practice, for example excluding those with certain physical characteristics from certain activities (indirect discrimination).
- Maintaining regulations or policies that lead to some groups encountering barriers to advancement (systemic or adverse effect).
- Excluding someone from an event because of that person’s relationship or association with someone who can be identified by a protected ground in the law (discrimination by association)
- Comments or jokes that may be, are known to be or ought to be known to be, unwelcome or offensive regarding race, ethnic origin, religion, clothing, sexual orientation etc.
- Refusing to work with someone because of ethnic origin, religion, race, disability etc.
- Threats or verbal abuse.
- Imitating someone’s accent.
- Calling somebody names.
- Making fun of a person with disabilities.
- Leering or staring.
- Displays of sexist, racist, pornographic pictures or drawings.
- Unwanted touching or physical contact.
Race and Discrimination
Discrimination or harassment based on race occurs when someone is treated unfairly, disturbed, bothered or picked on because of their race. Examples of harassment based on race are "jokes", slurrs, predjudice, stereotypes, etc... about a person's race or ethnic background.
Sexual Orientation and Discrimination
Discrimination or harassment based on sexual orientation occurs when someone is treated unfairly, disturbed, bothered or picked on because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, etc. (LGBT) or because of their involvement with a group/organization promoting tolerance/acceptance of LGBT persons. Examples of harassment based on sexual orientation are homophobic jokes/innuendo about a person's sexual orientation or same-sex partnership status and/or display of disrespectful signs, caricatures, cartoons or graffiti.
Religion and Discrimination
Religion is defined as including the beliefs, practices and observances that are part of a faith. It does not include personal moral, ethical or political views. Nor does it include violence or hate towards others. Where a rule conflicts with a religious requirement, there is a duty to ensure that individuals are able to observe their religion, unless this would cause undue hardship because of cost or health and safety reasons. Unlawful discrimination based on religion can include:
- Refusing to make an exception to dress codes to recognize religious dress requirements;
- Refusing to allow individuals to observe periods of prayer at particular times during the day; and
- Refusing to permit individuals to take time off to observe a religious holiday(s).
Harassment is a form of discrimination. It includes behaviour or comments that put down, insult, offend and show aversion to others. It is primarily behaviour that is known, or should be known, to be UNWELCOME.
Harassment can be based on a variety of protected grounds, such as skin colour, sexual orientation, gender, age and physical or mental ability. In these instances it is often known by terms such as racism, homophobia, sexism, ageism, ableism etc.
Racial harassment means someone is disturbing you, threatening you or treating you unfairly because of your race, skin colour or ancestry. It can be linked to where you were born, where you lived before moving to Ontario, your religious belief, your ethnic background, citizenship or even your language. Racism happens when someone makes racial slurs or jokes, ridicules or insults you because of your racial identity, posts degrading cartoons of members of a particular racial group, or calls you names because of your race, colour, and citizenship, place of origin, ancestry, ethnic background or creed.
Racial harassment will have a bad effect upon the places where you live, work or receive services. Even if harassment is not directed at you, it can still poison the environment for you and others.
Harassing behaviour includes:
- Slurs, negative stereotyping, threats and intimidation.
- Disparaging jokes, innuendo.
- Belittling speech about an individual or group.
- Isolating someone.
- Vandalism to property.
- Physical assault
Sexual harassment means that someone is disturbing or bothering you by saying or doing unwanted or unwelcome things of a sexual or gender-related nature. For example, someone who makes unwelcome sexual or gender-related remarks and gestures by:
- Touching you inappropriately.
- Making offensive jokes or remarks about women or men.
- Making sexual requests or suggestions.
- Staring at or making unwelcome comments about your body.
- Displaying sexually offensive pictures.
- Being verbally abusive to you because of your gender.
Sexual harassment can also mean that someone is bothering you simply because you are a man or a woman. Making stereotypes (generalizations) about one gender or the other can also be a form of sexual harassment. It can be a pattern of behaviour over time or a single incident.
OUTCOME OF HARASSMENT AND DISCRIMINATION
Harassment and discrimination lead to what is known as a poisoned or hostile environment due to unfair treatment, insults, jokes, comments and/or public displays of offensive materials or behaviours. They result in an environment where residents and employees are fearful and this unreasonably interferes with an individual’s life, academic and/or work performance or academic and/or employment opportunities.
If you feel or think you are being harassed or are a target for discrimination, if you feel that you have been harassed or are a victim of discrimination, depending on your level of comfort, you could try to tell the person(s) responsible to stop. Silence or doing nothing does not typically make harassment or discrimination stop and sometimes such harassing or discriminatory behaviour can lead to violence. If you feel uncomfortable or threatened, speak to a person in authority like a Don or RLC. Alternatively, contact the Centre for Human Rights.
Harassment and discrimination are prohibited by the York Code of Student Rights & Responsibilities: a complaint may be made with the Office of Student Community Relations where it will be addressed. York University’s Centre for Human Rights assists individuals and groups to address and resolve allegations of discrimination and harassment.
The Centre for Human Rights (CHR) strives to create a learning, teaching and working culture that is respectful, equitable and appreciative of diversity and inclusion and ensures York’s adherence to the Ontario Human Rights Code and York U's human rights policies. It offers students, faculty and staff preventative education and outreach programming and independent, impartial and confidential complaint resolution through mediation, consultations and investigations as needed. 416-736-5682 or ext. 55682
The Centre fosters a culture where attitudes and behaviors that perpetuate sexual violence are rejected, survivors are supported, community members are educated and those who commit incidents of sexual violence are held accountable. At the Centre, our work is driven by our communities needs. Survivors and all those affected by sexual violence will be provided with compassionate services, dignity, privacy, and respect.