In May 2021, SFU revised its Bullying and Harassment policy, also known as GP 47. While all the employee groups at the university were consulted, SFU implemented none of our recommended changes. The University has since reached out to APSA and other employee groups regarding further changes to this policy's procedures.
Here are a few concerns that APSA has with the current policy and the procedures that flow from it.
Coming forward with a complaint
SFU is recommending that a Central Hub intake all bullying and harassment complaints. Unfortunately, this adds an unnecessary, extra step to receiving complaints, lengthening an already extended process. The use of a "central hub" also increases the number of people aware of confidential employee complaints: complaints, for example, will still often go to Human Resources or Faculty Relations for further attention. While a Central Hub may work for student bullying and harassment complaints, it would make far more sense if there were a separate procedure for SFU employees, as the needs of students and employees and their relationships with the University are fundamentally different.
Investigating a complaint
Unfortunately, cases of bullying and harassment bring serious trauma: for victims, for complainants, for caregivers, just to name a few. We've recommended that SFU use a trauma-informed approach throughout the entire investigative process for everyone involved. We have noted that a lack of a trauma-informed approach too often leaves our members in severe mental distress.
Unfortunately, GP 47 and its procedures lack robust protection for complainants facing real or perceived retaliation. SFU employees are often terrified to come forward and make a complaint, especially in situations of marked power disparities. If there is evidence of overt or subtle retaliation, the complainant has little choice but to go through the process again, complain about the retaliation and possibly face further reprisal.
Restoration of the workplace
Following confirmation of bullying and harassment in an investigative report, SFU’s efforts to restore the workplace are too often ineffective. More effective, trauma-informed restorative actions should be codified in the policy's procedures, strongly committing SFU to mitigating the impact of bullying and harassment. Often in these cases, complainants feel that they have little choice but to leave the University—a position that they may have held for years.
What can you do?
If you have a bullying and harassment concern, we strongly suggest that you to come to meet with us for a confidential discussion. Our advocates have the knowledge and experience to navigate you through this process.
If you have any questions about the bullying and harassment policy and how it may affect you, don’t hesitate to contact the APSA office.