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Ontario Tech acknowledges the lands and people of the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation.

We are thankful to be welcome on these lands in friendship. The lands we are situated on are covered by the Williams Treaties and are the traditional territory of the Mississaugas, a branch of the greater Anishinaabeg Nation, including Algonquin, Ojibway, Odawa and Pottawatomi. These lands remain home to many Indigenous nations and peoples.

We acknowledge this land out of respect for the Indigenous nations who have cared for Turtle Island, also called North America, from before the arrival of settler peoples until this day. Most importantly, we acknowledge that the history of these lands has been tainted by poor treatment and a lack of friendship with the First Nations who call them home.

This history is something we are all affected by because we are all treaty people in Canada. We all have a shared history to reflect on, and each of us is affected by this history in different ways. Our past defines our present, but if we move forward as friends and allies, then it does not have to define our future.

Learn more about Indigenous Education and Cultural Services

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Respectful Campus Policy

Classification number LCG 1107
Framework category Legal, Compliance and Governance
Approving authority Board of Governors
Policy owner General Counsel
Approval date April 22, 2021
Review date April 2024
Last updated February 13, 2023


The Respectful Campus Policy (the “Policy”) outlines Ontario Tech University’s commitment to promote and sustain a respectful and inclusive campus in accordance with the Ontario Human Rights Code (the “Code”), the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, and the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA). The purpose of the Policy is to ensure the campus community is familiar with their various rights, roles, responsibilities and obligations as they relate to preventing and responding to all forms of Harassment and Discrimination.


For the purposes of this Policy and associated procedures, the following definitions apply:

“Barriers” include attitudes (stereotypes or prejudices), policies, practices, rules and designs that prevent full participation of individuals or groups on the basis of a Protected Ground.

"Complainant" refers to an individual who has filed a Report regarding an alleged breach of this policy.

"Discrimination" is a distinction, without lawful justification, whether intentional or not, which has the effect of denying benefits to, or otherwise disadvantaging, an individual on the basis of a Protected Ground (defined below). Discrimination may involve direct actions that are discriminatory on their face, or it may involve rules, practices or procedures that appear neutral, but have the effect of disadvantaging one or more groups of people.

"Discriminatory Harassment" means engaging in a course of vexatious comment or conduct based on any Protected Ground, that is known or ought reasonably to be known to be unwelcome. Discriminatory Harassment may include, for example, taunting or mocking someone’s race, ridiculing an individual’s disability or targeting others with sexual, gender-based or homophobic slurs.

“Disrespect” is behavior that falls short of Harassment, but nevertheless has harmful impacts on the campus environment, e.g. rude, inconsiderate and passive aggressive behavior. Disrespect, if left unaddressed, can escalate to Harassment or Discrimination.

“Duty to Accommodate” refers to the obligation to eliminate the disadvantage, to the point of undue hardship, caused by barriers that exclude individuals or groups protected under the Code from participating in all aspects of their employment, academic endeavors, or use of facilities and housing on campus. Failure to meet the Duty to Accommodate is a form of discrimination. For more on the Duty to Accommodate see the University’s Accommodation Policy.

"Employee" means job applicants and individuals performing services directly on the University’s behalf, including administrative staff members, Faculty, volunteers and contract employees. Students who are employed during the course of their studies, are “Employees” for the purposes of this Policy when they are engaged in employment activities, but not otherwise.

“Faculty” includes a Faculty Member at Ontario Tech University, and includes those with both limited term and indefinite term appointments, as well as those with paid, unpaid and honorific appointments.  For greater certainty, “Faculty” also includes visiting scholars and emeritus professors.

“Harassment” is the term used in this policy instrument to represent all forms of harassment: Discriminatory Harassment, Workplace Harassment and Sexual Harassment.

For greater certainty, Harassment is objectionable and unwanted behaviour that is verbally abusive, vexatious or hostile, that is without reasonable justification, and that creates a hostile or intimidating environment for working, learning or living. Harassment may be intentional or unintentional. While harassment usually consists of repeated acts, a single serious incident that has a lasting harmful effect may also constitute harassment.

Harassing behaviour includes, but is not limited to cumulative demeaning or intimidating comments, gestures or conduct; verbal aggression or yelling; bullying; threats to a person’s employment or educational status, person or property; persistent comments or conduct, including ostracism or exclusion of a person, that undermines an individual’s self-esteem so as to compromise their ability to achieve work or study goals; abuse of power, authority or position; sabotage of a person’s work; humiliating initiation practices; hazing; calling someone derogatory names; spreading of malicious rumours or lies; or making malicious or vexatious complaints about a person.

Harassment does not include the exercise of appropriate managerial or supervisory direction, including performance management and the imposition of discipline; constructive criticism; respectful expression of differences of opinions; reasonable changes to assignments or duties; correction of inappropriate behaviour; interpersonal conflict; instructional techniques such as irony, conjecture, and refutation, or assigning readings or other instructional materials that advocate controversial positions; and single incidents of thoughtless, petty or foolish words or acts that cause fleeting harm.

"JHSC" means the Joint Health & Safety Committee(s) at Ontario Tech University.

“Mediation” is a structured process in which parties in dispute are assisted by a third-party to engage in dialogue and attempt to arrive at a mutually agreeable resolution. Mediation is a voluntary process and can only proceed if all parties involved agree to participate.

“Microaggression” means a comment or action that negatively targets a group based on a Protected Ground (e.g. a racist, sexist or homophobic comment). Microaggressions may be intentional or accidental, but are nonetheless harmful and stigmatizing to a certain group of people.  If allowed to go unchallenged, Microaggressions may escalate to Harassment and/or Discrimination

"Person(s) of Authority" include, for the purposes of this policy and related procedures, any person who has charge of a workplace, authority over another Employee or authority in the administration of education, including supervisors, managers, senior management and Faculty leadership (e.g. Deans, Associates Deans, etc.).

“Poisoned Environment” is a form of indirect Discriminatory Harassment. It occurs when comments or conduct (including comments or conduct that are condoned or allowed to continue when brought to the attention of a Person of Authority), ridicule or demean a person or group based upon a Protected Ground. The comments or conduct need not be directed at a specific person, and may be from any person, regardless of position or status.

"Protected Ground(s)" are the grounds contained in the Ontario Human Rights Code under which individuals are protected against discrimination and harassment.  All University Members are protected under the following Grounds: “race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age, marital status, family status and disability.”  Employees are additionally protected under the ground “record of offences.”

"Report" refers to information about Harassment and/or Discrimination that is reported under the applicable procedures.

“Reprisal” includes retaliation, coercion, dismissal, threats or intimidation of anyone who in good faith: raises complaints or concerns, exercises their rights, or participates in a remedial process under this Policy.

“Respect” refers to a standard of interpersonal communication and behaviour characterized by self-restraint and consideration for others.

"Respondent" refers to any party who is alleged to have engaged in a breach of this policy.

"Sexual Harassment" means,

  1. engaging in a course of vexatious comment or conduct because of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression, where the course of comment or conduct is known or ought reasonably to be known to be unwelcome, or
  2. making a sexual solicitation or advance where the person making the solicitation or advance is in a position to confer, grant or deny a benefit or advancement and the person knows or ought reasonably to know that the solicitation or advance is unwelcome.

Sexual Harassment includes but is not limited to, sexually suggestive or obscene remarks or gestures, negative stereotypical comments based on gender, sex or sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.

“Sexual Misconduct” for the purposes of this policy and related procedures, refers to Sexualized or intimate behaviour by Employees in relation to a Student that is contrary to University Policy. Sexual Misconduct includes, for example, behaviours that fall within the definition of Sexual Harassment and Student Sexual Violence and also includes an employee’s failure to disclose to a Supervisor an intimate relationship with a Student when required under the University’s Ethical Conduct Policy.

“University Member” means any individual who at the time of the alleged Policy violation:

  • is employed by the University or holds an appointment with the University, including paid, unpaid and/or honorific appointments (“Employee”);
  • is registered as a student, in accordance with the academic regulations of the University (“Student”); and/or
  • Is otherwise subject to University policies by virtue of the requirements of a specific policy (e.g. Booking and Use of University Space) and/or the terms of an agreement or contract.

"Workplace" means any place where Employees engage in any facet of employment activity (e.g. recruitment, training, evaluation and development), including employment activities online, outside the normal place of work, and employment activities that occur outside of normal working hours.

"Workplace Harassment" means,

  1. engaging in a course of vexatious comment or conduct against an Employee in a workplace that is known or ought reasonably to be known to be unwelcome, and/or
  2. Workplace Sexual Harassment - defined as Sexual Harassment against an Employee in the workplace.

Scope and authority

The University's General Counsel is the Policy Owner.  The Policy Owner is responsible for overseeing the implementation, administration, interpretation and application of this Policy.

The Policy Owner will ensure the Policy is reviewed as often as is necessary, and in any event, at least annually, in accordance with the University’s Policy Framework and relevant Collective Agreements. The JHSC will be consulted on substantive revisions to this Policy.

This Policy applies to all University Members in all aspects of their engagement with the University.

Ontario Tech University has a Student Sexual Violence Policy, which sets out a framework for ensuring that students who experience sexual violence are directed to appropriate supports and services and that includes a set of procedures that are completely student-driven; meaning students decide if they want to file a formal report or to participate in resolution options. Sexual Harassment, as defined under this policy is also defined as Student Sexual Violence when perpetrated by or against a student. In the event that a student alleges sexual violence against an Employee or an employee alleges sexual harassment by a student, all of the rights, roles, responsibilities and obligations established under the Student Sexual Violence Policy will apply to the Student and this Policy and its related procedures will be applied to Employees.

This Policy and its corresponding Procedures do not override or diminish the rights provided to Employees under applicable Collective Agreements, including the right to academic freedom afforded to Faculty. Collective Agreements will supersede this Policy to the extent there is a conflict.

This Policy does not preclude University Members from pursuing resolution through external resources and processes, including those offered by the Human Rights Legal Support Centre, the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario and the Ontario Labour Relations Board.


The University promotes a campus environment that is equitable, inclusive and accessible, and does not tolerate, ignore or condone Discrimination or Harassment by or against anyone.

The University is committed to providing a campus environment in which all University Members are treated with dignity, and to fostering a climate of understanding and mutual respect. Excellence in the university community is fostered by promoting the freest possible exchange of information, ideas, beliefs and opinions in diverse forms, and it necessarily includes dissemination and discussion of controversial topics and unpopular points of view. However, Freedom of expression and freedom of inquiry must be exercised responsibly, in ways that demonstrate active concern and respect for others, including their ability to participate meaningfully in the exchange of information, ideas, beliefs and opinions (refer to the University’s Freedom of Expression Policy).

The University will maintain a respectful campus environment in which the human dignity of each individual is valued, and the diverse perspectives, ideas and experiences of all members of the community are able to flourish. While misunderstandings and conflicts will occur in a complex, demanding and diverse campus environment where collaboration is essential to success, early and informal approaches to resolution should be sought whenever possible and appropriate.

To promote a respectful campus environment:

  1. The University will ensure that procedures are in place for the prevention of, and response to Harassment, Discrimination and other breaches of this policy.
  2. The University will provide information, instruction and assistance to University Members with respect to Harassment and Discrimination.
  3. The University will provide Persons of Authority with information and instruction that will enable them to recognize, assess and address Harassment and Discrimination, and to understand how to respond appropriately when such incidents are alleged. The University will also provide Persons of Authority with information and instruction that will enable them to effectively and quickly address disrespectful behavior, Microaggressions and any other behaviours that negatively impact group cohesion.
  4. Any University Member who believes they have been harassed or discriminated against, or have witnessed Harassment or Discrimination, is expected to make good faith efforts to resolve their concerns depending on the circumstances, and/or Report the situation in a timely manner.
  5. The University will administer the processes set out in applicable procedures responding to Reports fairly and promptly, with adequate regard to the unique circumstances of each particular case, and in a manner that prioritizes the dignity and privacy of individuals involved.
  6. Where applicable and appropriate, the University will make available informal dispute resolution processes such as Mediation in an attempt to resolve disputes and underlying conflict at the heart of a Report.
  7. The University will inform and update Complainants, Respondents and relevant Persons of Authority (as appropriate) about the status of dispute resolution processes as they progress.
  8. University Members are protected against Reprisal for submitting a Report in good faith, or for participating in a related dispute resolution process.   A University Member who believes they have been penalized for submitting a Report in good faith, or for participating in a related investigation, may pursue the allegation of Reprisal by submitting a Report, and/or may pursue a Reprisal complaint through external processes.
  9. Reprisal protection does not apply to a University Member who submits a Report that is determined to be frivolous or vexatious, or who exhibits bad faith and/or refuses to cooperate in the course of an investigation; each of which are considered breaches of this policy.
  10. The University will respect the privacy of individuals involved in Reports and investigations, ensuring information about a Report is not disclosed, except to the extent necessary to investigate, take corrective action, implement measures to protect the health and safety of University Members and/or restore the learning/work environment, or as otherwise required by law.
  11. Personal Information collected under this Policy will be used only for the purposes of administering this Policy, and will be disclosed only on a need-to-know basis, to the extent disclosure is required to fulfill the University's legal obligations under the Human Rights Code, the Occupational Health & Safety Act, and any other applicable law and/or legal obligations, including any applicable collective agreement.  Subject to applicable law, Personal Information collected, used and disclosed under this Policy will otherwise be kept confidential, and will be stored and disposed of in accordance with Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act and Ontario Tech University’s Records Management Policy.
  12. University Members who engage in Harassment and/or Discrimination, Reprisal or other breaches of this policy will be held accountable and may be subject to disciplinary measures, up to and including termination of employment or academic expulsion.

All University Members

  1. Have a shared responsibility for maintaining a respectful environment that is free from Harassment and Discrimination.
  2. Are responsible for familiarizing themselves with this Policy and related procedures;
  3. Will refrain from engaging in Harassment, Discrimination, Sexual Misconduct, acts of Reprisal or other breaches of this policy.
  4. Will build and maintain positive and productive relationships and demonstrate Respect in their interactions.
  5. Will work cooperatively and constructively to resolve conflicts they encounter and seek assistance from a Person of Authority, as appropriate, regarding any escalating conflict they are unable to resolve themselves.
  6. Will complete all required Discrimination and Harassment instruction and training within established timelines
  7. Will exercise rights under this Policy in good faith using prescribed channels.  For more information on reporting Harassment and Discrimination, refer to the procedures for Employees and Students.  
  8. Will participate in and cooperate with the Reporting Process and/or any related investigation, including respecting confidentiality obligations.
  9. Will comply with the corrective measures imposed by the University under this Policy, subject to relevant collective agreements and other appeal rights.

Persons of Authority
Persons of Authority are responsible for supporting Ontario Tech University in its duty to create and maintain a respectful environment that is free from Harassment and Discrimination. Therefore, Persons of Authority have additional obligations in addition to the expectations for all University Members (above). Persons of Authority:

  1. Will cultivate a respectful and inclusive environment where people feel safe to raise concerns;
  2. Will ensure expected standards under this Policy are adhered to, including addressing and resolving Microaggressions and other disrespectful behavior should they occur;
  3. Will lead by example, acting with Respect and modelling positive relationship building and constructive conflict resolution skills in dealings with all University Members, and in particular, those under their authority;
  4. Are responsible for ensuring University Members under their authority are aware of this Policy and its associated procedures;
  5. Will avoid the appearance of favoritism and unfairness by following and promoting adherence to evidence-based decision-making and the principles of non-Discrimination outlined in this Policy;
  6. Will consider seriously each incident, concern or Report brought forward by taking immediate action to stop any Discrimination, Harassment or other inappropriate behavior, whether the subject of a formal complaint or not, by following policies and procedures to the extent necessary to ensure compliance (note: A Person of Authority cannot agree “to do nothing,” even when that is requested by a University Member);
  7. Will inform the Human Rights Office about all activities related to Discrimination and Harassment or other concerns and Reports related to this Policy; and,
  8. Will cooperate with the Human Rights Office to implement recommendations and restore areas under their authority that have been disrupted by alleged or actual Policy violations, or complaint resolution processes.

Human Rights Office

  1. The Human Rights Office Is responsible for the interpretation and administrative direction of this policy and its associated policies and procedures to ensure their compliance with regulatory requirements and will take primary responsibility for updating related procedures applicable to Employees and Students, ensuring that all related procedures are reviewed as often as is necessary in consultation with all appropriate departments.
  2. The Human Rights Office will oversee dispute resolution processes, determine needs and engage specialist support, as necessary, for investigation, fact finding, Mediation or other interventions required to restore the campus to a positive and productive environment, including:
    1. receiving and responding to Reports from all University Members while ensuring Reports are responded to appropriately using informal and formal dispute resolution methods in a timely and equitable manner, as outlined in this Policy and in related procedures;
    2. ensuring the appropriate departments and/or individuals are advised of a Report, where appropriate; and,
    3. ensuring the outcome of an investigation under this Policy, is communicated in writing to Complainant(s), Respondent(s) and relevant Persons of Authority to support corrective and restorative measures.
  3. The Human Rights Office is also responsible for:
    1. ensuring that copies of this Policy and related procedures are posted on a University website; and,
    2. Submitting an Annual Report to the Board of Governors about statistics and trends in human rights complaint activities and other program initiatives

Human Resources

  1. Human Resources is responsible for the following compliance obligations under the Occupational Health & Safety Act
    1. providing Employees with appropriate information and instruction with respect to Workplace Harassment, including notifying them of this Policy and its related procedures;
    2. ensuring all Persons of Authority are provided with information and instruction that will enable them to recognize, assess and address Workplace Harassment in their respective workplaces, and will ensure Persons of Authority are aware of this Policy and related procedures;
    3. ensuring that copies of this Policy and employment-related procedures are posted on the established health and safety bulletin boards where it is likely to come to the attention of Employees; and,
    4. ensuring the corrective actions taken as a result of an investigation (if any), are communicated in writing to Complainant(s) and Respondent(s) who are Employees;
  2. Human Resources is also responsible for:
    1. providing Employees and Persons of Authority with appropriate information and instruction with respect to Discrimination and Discriminatory Harassment, including notifying them of this Policy and its related procedures;
    2. Assisting Persons of Authority, in consultation with the Human Rights Office, to address Microaggressions and other disrespectful behaviors that occur in the employment context; and,
    3. Assisting Persons of Authority to implement corrective and restorative measures in areas under their authority that have been disrupted by alleged or actual Policy violations, or complaint resolution processes.


Student Life

  1. Student Life is responsible for:
    1. Providing Students with appropriate information with respect to Discriminatory Harassment and Discrimination, including notifying them of this Policy and its related procedures; and,
    2. Assisting Persons of Authority, in consultation with Human Resources and/or the Human Rights Office, to address Microaggressions and other disrespectful behaviors that occur in the academic or on-campus housing context.


Monitoring and review

This Policy will be reviewed as necessary and at least every year. The University's General Counsel, or successor thereof, is responsible to monitor and review this Policy.

Relevant legislation

Human Rights Code, R.S.O. 1990, c. H.19

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005, S.O. 2005

Occupational Health and Safety Act, R.S.O. 1990, c O.1, as amended

Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, R.S.O. 1990, c F. 31

Related policies, procedures & documents

  1. Academic Accommodation for Students with Disabilities [Procedures]

Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Policy

Accessibility [Policy]

Accessible Customer Service [Policy]

Accommodation for Employees and Job Applicants with Disabilities [Procedures]

Change of Gender [Policy]

Exempt Academic Staff [Policy]

Exempt Academic Staff Employment (Deans, Associate Deans and Teaching Staff Governors [Procedures]

Freedom of Expression [Policy]

Limited Term Academic Associates [Procedures]

Emergency Management Plan and Procedures

Fair Processes Policy

Non-Academic Staff Policies

Student Sexual Violence Policy and Procedures

Procedures to Prevent and Address Discrimination and Harassment by or Against Employees

Procedures to Prevent and Address Discrimination and Harassment by or Against Students

Records Management Policy

Joint Health and Safety Committee Terms of Reference

Occupational Health and Safety Management System

Student Conduct Policy

Medical Cannabis Use by Students [Procedures]

Service Animals [Procedures]

Use of Memory Aids by Students with Disabilities [Directives]

Use of Audio Recording of Lectures by Students with Disabilities [Directives]

Procedures for Accommodating Employees and Job Applicants with Disabilities

Procedures for Academic Accommodation for Students with Disabilities