Mark Jones, Request for Withdrawal of Motion to Approve Revised Harassment/Discrimination Complaint Policy (8 April 2011)

As emailed 8 April 2011. Harry Smith (Co-ordinator, Dispute Resolution Mechanisms, and Chair of the Senate Working Group) responded that the Working Group had previously determined to withdraw the Motion for Approval from the Senate’s April Agenda.  See also Appendix H to the Senate Agenda for 24 March 2011, and the posting of 29 March.

To: Senate Working Group to Review the Harassment/Discrimination Complaint Policy and Procedure, viz., I. Bujara; D. Kelly; I. LaFleche; H. Smith, Chair

cc: Queen’s Senate Office; Queen’s Senators; QUFA; David Mullan

From: Mark Jones

Subject: The Working Group’s Notice of Motion (24 March 2011) to Approve a Revised Harassment/Discrimination Complaint Policy and Procedure at Senate of 28 April 2011

Date: 7 April 2011

I have grave concerns about voting on the newest version of the Queen’s Harassment / Discrimination Complaint Policy and Procedure at the April 28, 2011, Senate meeting.

I attach a list of comments I have posted on the Queen’s Senate Faculty Caucus Blog at this URL:

I also attach a report commissioned by QUFA and written by Professor Emeritus David Mullan that gives a history of the Harassment/Discrimination Complaint Policy and Procedure and also answers several questions posed by QUFA. I was made aware of this report (not yet in final form) after I posted my comment on the blog (above).

Mullan Report (2 Apr 2011)

In this memorandum I list a few concerns to begin a conversation about the Harassment/ Discrimination Complaint Policy and Procedure and to request that the motion before Senate be deferred to a future date.

First and foremost, this newest version of the Policy and Procedure is so very different from the last version presented a year ago that it is unconscionable not to give enough time for proper review and comment. Fair process demands sufficient time.

Next, who is actually in the Working Group now? I see that half the people are no longer in it, leaving I. Bujara, D. Kelly, I. LaFleche, and H. Smith. This is not a representative committee and does not include perspectives that must be included for a document of such importance and with such reach within the University; in fact, the original Working Group never really represented all the various factions that have a deep interest in and are supposed to abide by the provisions of this Policy and Procedure. I request that the Working Group be reformed to broaden its expertise and experience and to address the concerns that I and others raise about this newest version of the Policy and Procedure.

Third, I repeat from my blog comment that administrators have not been included in key provisions. For example, why are the Principal, Vice-Principals, and Board of Trustees members not mentioned in 1 b)? Surely they are part of the Queen’s community. And again, why are they not mentioned in 13 a)? It is conceivable that the Principal and Vice-Principals are covered under “staff,” but members of the Board are not. And if I as a Senator am uncertain about the reference of the term“staff,” then the document needs to be more explicit, for there are bound to be others who also find it unclear.

Fourth, the complaint process has become quite adversarial, so you can bet that both complainants and respondents will want to involve lawyers. This change to adversarial process is made without explaining why it is necessary and the new draft policy then goes on explicitly to exclude the possibility of legal costs being covered. This privileges University offices and senior administrators, to whom the University’s legal resources are available, over those who wish to register complaints but do not have deep pockets or other resources that would allow them to carry the cost of such a process. Moreover, the time lines for the formal process are so short that only those who are very savvy about litigation and have money would be able to comply. This entrenches current power imbalances, creates a chilly climate, and re-victimizes the victim. This perpetuates harassment and discrimination.

Fifth, a question: will the Human Rights Office be given resources to do all the informal work that the Policy and Procedure proposes? This will require a huge influx of money, for they will need to hire more full-time staff. I am not criticizing the informal process, which might work very well indeed, but it cannot work well without experienced, knowledgeable, and trained people designated specifically for this responsibility. And surely we want this to work well.

Sixth, how can an Advisor be both an advisor to the complainant and then a facilitator for mediation? This presents a conflict of interest.

Seventh, the Secretariat’s website states that the “C[oordinator of] D[ispute] R[esolution] M[echanisms] does not serve as an advocate for any party to a dispute, but as a resource for information on the various dispute resolution processes available at the University.” Does this not contradict the new Policy and Procedure where the CDRM is to advise respondents? Should the response be that the website is out of date and the CDRM’s role has changed, does the CDRM have the requisite experience, knowledge, and training in equity and human rights issues to advise respondents properly? And what role does the CDRM have in any other University policies and procedures that might have an impact on its role in this Policy and Procedure?

Eighth, I asked the Human Rights Office about its reporting structure since I could not find it on the Queen’s website. Apparently it used to report to Senate until 2006, but now it reports to Human Resources. How can this make any sense given that it has a mandate that encompasses student concerns, not just the concerns of Queen’s employees?

These are my questions and concerns as one faculty member. There will likely be more from other faculty members and from other corners of the University, but I submit that mine alone are enough to cause this item to be deferred until we engage in the questions raised by this newest version of the Queen’s Harassment/Discrimination Complaint Policy and Procedure.


Mark Jones

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