Generally, the University defines harassment as “conduct or comments which are intimidating, threatening, demeaning, or abusive, and may be accompanied by direct or implied threats to a person’s grades, status or job”. On campus, harassment is prohibited by University policy. Although harassment can be directed at personal characteristics like a person’s race, religious beliefs or sexual orientation, the most common form of harassment is sexual harassment.
Sexual harassment is unwanted sexual attention which makes a person uncomfortable and has the impact of creating a work or study environment that is hostile and limits individuals in the pursuit of education, research or work goals. The concern is with the negative impact of the harassing behavior not with whether the actions are intended to harass. People of all genders can be the targets of sexual harassment.
How can you deal with harassment?
Most people who are being harassed just want the behaviour to stop. Getting the harassing behaviour to stop requires some action but, as is natural, the circumstances create discomfort. It can be especially uncomfortable when the two people work together or are in the same academic program. The likelihood of continued interaction with each other makes finding a workable resolution all the more important. Here are some options which people have found helpful:
Tell the harasser the negative impact of the behaviour and ask that the behaviour stop. For example, “when you make suggestive comments, I feel so uncomfortable that I can’t concentrate on my work. I don’t like these comments. Stop saying these things to me.” Some people choose to convey this message by talking to the harasser; some people choose to write a letter.
Keep a written, chronological account of all incidents of harassing behaviour. Note what occurred, when, and names of any others who may have witnessed the incident. Keep any inappropriate letters, jokes, pictures or objects that the harasser gives you.
Talk to someone. Seek the assistance of the Office of Safe Disclosure and Human Rights at 780-492-7325 or the Sexual Assault Centre at 780-492-9771. One of the staff there will listen to your concern and will help find a solution that works for you. The staff will respect the confidential nature of the information you share. Seek the assistance of Protective Services especially if you are feeling unsafe or in danger.
Many people who experience harassment feel uncertain or embarrassed; however, ignoring or minimizing the problem won’t make it go away. Ask for help. The University wants your work and study environment to be healthy and safe.
Harassment can include:
- Sexist or racist jokes
- Display of offensive material
- Derogatory name calling
- Derogatory social media postings
- Persistent and unwelcome phone calls or texts; calls or texts of an explicit nature
- Persistent and unwelcome requests for “dates”
- Unwanted touching, patting or pinching
- Verbal threats or abuse
- Graffiti of offensive words
What to do when an abusive/obscene phone call/text is received:
- Most often the caller/sender is looking for a reaction. Don’t react.
- Hang up promptly. Don’t reply to texts from numbers that you don't recognize.
- Instruct your children and/or baby-sitters not to talk to anyone that they don’t know.
- Notify Protective Services and/or police of any calls that you have received. If the calls happen regularly, make a log of the dates and times of the calls as well as what was said. A copy of your phone bill showing dates and times calls/texts were received is also useful to have.
- Consider subscribing to call display so you can see the number of the caller.
More Phone Tips:
- List your number with your initials only. Do not use your first name. This applies to your telephone number and your apartment buzzer.
- You may wish to have an unlisted number if you have a residential landline; there is an extra charge for this service.